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In the change from scriptural writing systems to textual mechanical systems and most recently to digital, computer generated text, some languages and their typographic representations have suffered. One such language, along with its visible language representation, that has not made a smooth transition is Arabic. The author argues that misinterpreting language tradition prevents what he calls Arabetic typography from embracing an appropriate technological adaptation. Putting forth an evolutionary argument, he critiques the notion that calligraphic styles must prevail and that legibility and readability of Arabic characters is objective. He further states that the resulting typefaces when abandoning the so called “Arabic script rules” he challenges are similar in visual impact to the ‘free calligraphy’ typefaces already widely used in the marketplace. Finally he challenges the notion that technological maturity has been reached in digital character input and generation. Following these critiques, he demonstrates the awkward input system for Arabetic text and proposes a Natural Arabetic Input Method. A political and economic subtext runs throughout the essay.


This work was originally published in Visible Language.


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