tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Jun 25 18:06:01 1993

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Re: HoS voDleH jIH

Will Martin:
>Why not right-to-left, or up-and-down, or

Another possibility, which has actually been used in some orthographies, is to
write alternating lines left-to-right and right-to-left.   Such a
boustrophedonic ("ox-turning") system, like plowing a field, eliminates the
motion that returns the hand to the beginning of each new line.

The original semitic alphabet was written horizontally, right to left, as
Hebrew and Arabic still are today.  When the Greeks borrowed that alphabet, it
became written in boustrophedonic fashion.  On the alternating right-to-left
lines, they reversed not only the direction of the letter order but also the
direction of each letter shape.

In Greek orthography (and so in the Roman and Cyrillic scripts descending from
Greek), the left-to-right order eventually won out.  This is why the letter
shapes in Greek and Latin are the mirror image of the corresponding semitic
shapes: the semitic K, for example, originally consisted of a vertical line
with a couple of little arms extending to the left.

Ken Beesley

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