why do we write from left to right

Writing in English was derived from writing in Latin (it's mostly the same alphabet, after all), which in turn was derived from writing in Greek Ббwhich was written from left to right. So this is why all European writing systems go from left to right: because they're derived from Greek. But why did the Greeks write from left to right? I'm not sure. They adopted their alphabet from Phoenician (or, if you wish, Proto-Canaanite), which was actually mostly written right to left (and sometimes
: direction alternates every line, so that each line starts just below where the previous line ends). In fact, Greek used to write from right to left for a while, before they switched to left-to-right. Another derivative from Proto-Canaanite was Aramaic, from which Hebrew, Arabic, Persian etc. are derived, and they're all still written right-to-left. It is also believed that Brahmi (the family of Indic scripts) was derived from Aramaic and was written right-to-left for a while, before switching to left-to-right.


Why did this switch happen, in Greek and Brahmi? According to a theory mentioned on without a citation (so it may just be an urban legend), Many languages that existed before the invention of ink were written right to left since this is the more natural for right handed people to hold a chisel in the left hand and the hammer in the right. After ink became the main method of writing, writing from left to right became preferable since it avoided smudging the ink. Make of that what you will. It is known that Chinese, Japanese and Korean are written in vertical columns going from top to bottom and ordered right to left because it "facilitated writing with a brush in the right hand while continually unrolling the sheet of paper or scroll with the left". (The Chinese invented paper, after all. ) So there may be merit to the explanation quoted above, that the medium influenced the writing direction. News flash: Twitter now comes in 28 languages в including Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, and Urdu, which are written from right-to-left.


Twitter has long supported right-to-left text from users, but it now has instructions and can display hashtags from right-to-left as well. Why are some languages written from right to left and others from left to right? Let s start at the beginning в 3500 B. C. At least that s typically when scholars acknowledge that writing began, or more specifically, when the writing system known as cuneiform began to emerge. Other forms of writing, like Egyptian and Indian hieroglyphics, predate cuneiform, but was different because it started to use abstract shapes to represent sounds. Rather than using an image of a bird to represent bird, as hieroglyphics does, cuneiform used markings to represent the sound ah or sa. This was a big leap in writing systems because it was the development of a alphabet, in which letters represent sounds. The biggest advantage of using letters instead of symbols is how many figures you need. If every word was a symbol, we would need thousands and thousands of symbols, but because we can make sounds out of letters and those sounds correspond to the words we speak, an alphabet becomes much easier to use.


This is what happened with cuneiform. Early on it had thousands of symbols, but over time as the symbols became more representational and less literal, fewer were needed. Early on in its development, cuneiform was written from left to right. It has been hypothesized that this is because right-handed scribes would smudge their work if they wrote from right to left. There is little historical evidence for this hypothesis. Why would you compile a dictionary of an extinct language? Read about here. How and when specific languages started writing from right-to-left is still under debate. For example, Persian (which is a descendant of cuneiform) is written from right-to-left, even though its predecessor is not. This may be from particular historical circumstances, but there is no academic on the exact reasons. Both Arabic and Hebrew came from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, which was written from right to left.


Proto-Canaanite was also sometimes written in a hybrid form called in which the directions of the lines alternate. One line is written right to left, and the next line is written from left to right. This is easier on the scribe, but not necessarily on the reader. This writing style was used in Greek and Latin, particularly in religious inscriptions. Because they are based on characters rather than letters, Chinese and Japanese can be written horizontally or vertically. Traditionally, Chinese was written in vertical columns with the text starting in the top right corner of the page, running down and then to the left. Today, Chinese has mimicked the direction of English and is more commonly written in rows starting from the top left corner, written from left to right and down the page. By including right-to-left languages, Twitter is making the Internet a more non-English-friendly place. Read here. What do you think about this change?

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