Your deadline is coming up, and for some reason you’re the one handling Arabic text on the project. Of course, you can’t read a single letter of Arabic, so you can’t tell whether you’re doing it right. Since I am tired of seeing my script misrepresented in media and you or your employer refuse to just hire someone for this, I will give you a number of easy pointers to avoid embarrassing yourself & your project to almost 2 billion people.
1. Arabic script is aligned to the right. Interface flows from the right. If your Arabic is aligned to the left, your text is wrong.
2. Arabic script generally has a clear and visible baseline, connecting the letters. If you cannot find a baseline, your text is wrong.
3. In general, the letter combination ال should be common. The combination لا cannot occur in Arabic script, as those characters should be connected.
Here are the most common errors:
- The text is rendered left-to-right, instead of right-to-left. siht ekil daer ot gnivah ekil s’tI!
- The text is rendered as disconnected characters, rather than as cursive. In Arabic scripts, the connection between letters helps us see where words begin and end. Wit houtt Hos eit’slik Ehavi n gtor eadat Ex tlik ethi s!
- The text is in the wrong Arabic-script language, for example Farsi in Egypt (Egyptians primarily speak an Egyptian Dialect of Arabic), or Modern Standard Arabic in Afghanistan (Afghans speak Dari, an Afghan Persian language). Comme l’alphabet latin, vous pouvez écrire différentes langues avec l’alphabet arabe.
- The text is not Arabic. It might look vaguely Arabic, but is actually just a bunch of scribbles or even English. I hate it. Bonus ‘I hate it’ points if it’s that Arabic-looking font that’s just English text that looks kind of Arabic.
Here are the most common reasons:
- No-one who can speak or read Arabic was involved in the process of creating a media project involving an Arabic language. Did you know 2 billion people on Earth, or about 28% of the population, can read the Arabic alphabet to some degree?
- The implementation of Arabic was not tested for quality. Even though the translated text was correct, people involved in the project were unaware that computers are not built to handle Arabic, and tons of software breaks Arabic. Photoshop breaks Arabic. We even have a website that will break our Arabic so that Photoshop breaks it back to normal. Yes, Adobe is aware. No, they do not care.
- You’ve never had to worry about copy-pasting destroying your text between two programs, disconnecting your character, or flipping the writing direction, and you cannot possibly imagine having to worry about copy-paste mangling your text. No, we tried, nobody in software standards seem to care.
18 minute crash course
Here’s a 18 minute video of I talk I gave at XOXO in 2015 that’ll teach you more than enough Arabic to not embarrass yourself in front of everyone who can read the Arabic alphabet to some degree. That’s about 2 billion people, or 28% of the human population, and they will absolutely notice that you don’t know what you’re doing and laugh at you in languages you cannot even read.
Found an example of Not Arabic?
Please submit it to notarabic.com via @ra, so it can join a list of small independent companies with limited budgets, such as Disney, Google, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Github, HBO, Marvel, and other such companies that would rather insult a tenth of the human population than actually pay to have someone who knows the language look at it. Shoutout to Marvel Studios for getting ‘United Nations’ wrong, something you can check in about 2 seconds at un.org/ar.
Made with exhaustion & love
The Arabic-scripted languages are spoken, read, and/or written to some degree by over 2 billion people on Earth. I hope this will you help in case you cannot afford to hire anyone at all with a elementary school level of Arabic script reading. You can find me yelling about Arabic and videogames at @tha_rami, or contact me for consultancy or questions at email@example.com.
Made by Rami Ismail. If this website was useful to you, please consider shouting out the website on your social media or maybe send a quick thanks? That’d be nice.