The Arabic script has two features which make it unique in terms of encoding. One is that it is written from right to left (or RTL). The other feature is that the shapes of individual letters change forms depending on whether the letter is alone, at the beginning of a word, the middle of a word or at the end.
In order to process Arabic correctly, a software must be able to display text from right to left and make sure the letter forms are displayed correctly depending on their positions within a word. Unfortunately, there is incomplete implementation of creating correct letter forms in many software packages.
The Arabic script is used for other languages besides Arabic, but their local alphabets may include special characters for sounds not found in Arabic. Supporting these languages may require special fonts for extra keyboards and special keyboards.
Before downloading any fonts, you may want to read Arabic Fonts on the Mac (and Windows). The site gives an overview of issues to look for when reviewing font options.
Note: Open Type fonts are the best option if available. Although earlier versions of OS X had incomplete Open Type support in comparison to Windows, the options have improved in recent OS X versions.
If you have your browser configured correctly, the Web sites above should display the correct characters. If you have difficulties, see list below for font and browser configuration instructions.
Windows only has access to the native layout, but phonetic layout may be available for download.
A native Hebrew and QWERTY Arabic and two native Arabic keyboards are available on the Macintosh.
For a person new to an RTL script, typing can be a little disorienting and different from LTR scripts. The RTL page presents some helpful information including how to right align a document and work with punctuation.
utf-8) is the preferred encoding for Arabic, especially if more unusual Arabic characters are used or multilingual support is needed. However some other encodings may be encountered.
Some sites may use Windows Arabic (
See Using Encoding and Language Codes for more information on the meaning and implementation of these codes.
Some HTML editors set the direction automatically, but it can also be set manually
using the new
<bdo> attributes. See the Right-to-Left Alignment tips page for more details.
Although most educated speakers learn to read, write and speak in the same Modern Standard Arabic or fusha (a form similar to the Classical Arabic used in the Koran), the spoken or colloquial varieties from each region vary widely. The variation is enough that linguists classify the totality of these forms as a series of closely related languages.
One local form which is written is Maltese Arabic from the island of Malta. Malta is formally a part of the European Union and uniquely uses the Western Roman alphabet. It's grammar has diverged further than some of the other forms of Arabic, but shares similarities with North African Arabic forms.
See the Maltese page for additional information writing the accents.
The use of Colloquial Arabic in formal writing is used for most formal publications, but can be found in some television dramas, local poems and local plays. If you are transcribing one of these forms, then it is recommended that one of the following language tags be used.
The following codes, as implemented by Microsoft, assume there is one variety of Arabic per country. The advantage of these codes is that there are utilities such as spell checkers which may be available, however there are colloquial forms which do not conform to national boundaries.
ar-SA- Saudi Arabia
ar-AE- United Arab Emirates
ar-ER- Eritrea (rare)
Note: The Subsaharan African codes have not been implemented by Microsoft.
These ISO-639-3 codes from SIL codes are meant to match linguistic classification of the Colloquial Arabic forms and do not always match national boundaries.
||Algeria (minority language)|
|Babalia Creole Arabic||
||Chad (minority language)|
||Cyprus (minority language)|
|Egyptian (Eastern) Bedawi||
||Sinai (Bedouin), Gaza, Red Sea coast|
||Persian Gulf (Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. Zubair & Fau Peninsula|
||Yemen, minority language|
||Saudi Arabia, Red Sea coast|
||Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Kuwait|
||Iraq, eastern Jordan/Syria, western Iran, Turkey|
||Tigris & Euphrates north of Baghdad|
||Oman, Hajar Mountains|
||Formal written standard|
|Sudanese Creole Arabic||
||Southern Sudan (minority language)|
||Yemen, except east|
||Afghanistan (minority language)|
||Uzbekistan (Central Asia), minority language|
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Last Modified: Tuesday, 27-Sep-2016 14:50:30 EDT