Why is Arabic written from right to left

Arabic writing is very different from Latin and Cyrillic. So, for example, in Arabic, you cannot split words into parts to transfer to a new line, punctuation marks are put in the reverse order – from left to right, and besides, there are no capital letters in this script. Therefore, even proper names are written the same way as all other words. However, the most striking feature of Arabic writing is how the word is drawn from right to left. Why?

Why is Arabic written from right to left

Historians and linguists still do not have an exact answer to the question posed – why the Arabs write from right to left. There are several theories of varying degrees of persuasiveness and the realization that the formation of the Arabic script, like any other script in the world, was influenced by a whole list of factors. The roots of modern Arabic writing go back to the mists of time. It is generally accepted that it appeared based on the Nabataean letter. In turn, it arose based on the Aramaic letter; it was preceded by the Phoenician letter and the Proto-Sinaitic letter.

The Proto-Sinaitic script was used in the Sinai Peninsula in the 1500s BC. It developed, among other things, into the Phoenician and Canaanite scripts, which were used from 1500 to 1050 BC. The Phoenician script, in turn, became the basis for the emergence of not only Aramaic but also Hebrew, Greek, and many other alphabets. The latter was used from the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD.

Why is Arabic written from right to left

And here, it is important to understand the main thing, namely, what united most of the listed ancient alphabets, except the Greek. This is what the ancestors of the North African and Middle Eastern peoples “wrote” mainly on stones, and they made these records from right to left! More precisely, they carved inscriptions on stones with a hammer and chisel. Many relevant archaeological sites have survived to this day. What do hammer and chisel have to do with writing direction? Scientists believe that the key.

The most convincing version comes down to the fact that the ancient people were intuitively used to writing from right to left, being mostly right-handed. In addition, the hammer was held, as a rule, in the right hand and the chisel in the left. This also intuitively pushed the ancient man, “not corrupted” by the tradition of Latin and Cyrillic writing, to create records in the same direction.

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