I am collecting the info on bidi, for the following faq, which will be posted

I would be glad for your comments on this. Of course the list of scripts and
languages will be updated based on the mails I received.
Also, I'll add a link to your page Lars.

Which languages are right-to-left (RTL) or bidirectional (bidi)?


Languages generally do have a preferred script, scripts in turn have a
particular writing direction. The following scripts are bidirectional, and
therefore languages written in these scripts are also bidirectional:

Bidirectional Scripts
Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, Thaana

The following languages are generally written in bidirectional scripts:

Bidirectional Languages
Adighe, Algerian Tribal, Arabic, Avesta, Baluchi, Berber, Dargwa,
Farsi/Persian, Hausa, Hebrew, Ingush, Jawi/Javanese Kashmiri, Kazakh, Kurdish
(Sorani), Kök Turki, Ladino, Landha, Maldivian, Manchu, Middle Mongolian,
Morrocan Arabic, old Malay, Pashto, Sindhi, Sogdian, South Arabic, Swahili,
Syriac, Tajik, Thaana, Uighur, Urdu, Uzbek, Yiddish.

Note that this list, of necessity, is not complete. There are too many
languages in existence to identify them all here.

Languages that are not bidirectional
Languages written in Latin, Slavic, Cyrillic, (Modern) Greek and Thai scripts
are left-to-right.

Ideographic languages (e.g. Japanese, Korean, Chinese) are more flexible in
their writing direction. They are generally written left-to-right, or
vertically top-to-bottom (with the vertical lines proceeding from right to
left). However, they are occasionally written right to left. (In actual fact,
they are written vertically top-to-bottom in lengths of a single character,
and therefore appear to be written as right-to-left.) Chinese newspapers
sometimes combine all of these writing directions on a page. Fortunately for
web designers and authors, the decision of writing ideographic languages
left-to-right or top-to-bottom is up to the designer or author.

A good resource for information about languages is the SIL Ethnologue.

"Which languages are right-to-left?" is a common question, although
incorrectly phrased. Knowing the directionality of languages is important to
web designers and authors, because the so called right-to-left languages are
more complicated (for beginners) to work with and the organization and
directionality of the page layout are affected. Therefore, knowing the writing
direction can be relevant to estimating the work involved to create web pages
in a new language.

Why is the question incorrectly phrased? There are 2 inaccuracies within this
question. First, languages don't have a writing direction, the script used to
write them determines the direction. For example, Yiddish is generally written
in the Hebrew script, which is right-to-left. But it can also be written using
the Latin script which is left-to-right. Many languages can be written in more
than one script.

The second inaccuracy concerns the use of the term "right-to-left". Although
the majority of the text will be written right-to-left, numbers are still
written left-to-right (LTR). In addition, right-to-left text will often
include borrowed or foreign words written in their native left-to-right
script, and so the text is mixed directionality. The proper term therefore is
"bidirectional", often shortened to "bidi". However, "right-to-left" is very
commonly used, and for reasons of symmetry is the natural antonym to
"left-to-right". "Bidirectional" is to be preferred.

There is more information on the different directionalities of scripts in:

There is more information on bidirectional languages, at:


Tex Texin cell: +1 781 789 1898 mailto:Tex@...
Xen Master http://www.i18nGuy.com

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