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The Arabic script used for writing Arabic and other languages in Africa as well as Asia.
Before European colonisation, the Arabic script found use for writing many languages of the Sahel and the east coast of Africa, today often referred to as "Ajami."*
The Arabic script for the Arabic language is well standardized and indeed its calligraphy is a high art form in many countries. Nevertheless there are local variants, such as in the Arabic language of the Maghreb (western North Africa) and as used in Koranic instruction in the countries of the western Sahel.
In addition, the Arabic script or Ajami used to transcribe the different sound systems of subsaharan African languages also has added forms, although these may vary in different areas (i.e., the same sound represented with different modifications or usages of the traditional Arabic script).
Ajami use was not favored under colonial rule or by independent African states, however its use continues, and is the focus of recent and new research.
There was an effort by the Islamic States Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) and Mohamed Chtatou in 1992 to standardize Arabic script usage for African languages. This was based largely on adaptations of the script for non-Arabic languages in the Middle East (notably Farsi and Urdu) rather than the actual practice in Africa.
Other researchers are working on documentation of current practice.
Currently Unicode covers the most modified Arabic character needs in the Arabic and extended Arabic ranges, though there are proposals for additional characters. [give ranges & references]
The issues of RTL (right to left) and bidirectional text in ICT have been largely resolved [is this blanket statement accurate?] in Arabic, and these solutions are applicable for any use of Arabic script / Ajami for other languages, and perhaps other scripts like N'Ko.
Consonants only are shown. Adapted from: http://www.lexilogos.com/arabe_alphabet.htm
|letter / lettre||name/nom||end/ fin||middle/milieu||beginning/ début|
|ء||hamza||أ ؤ إ ئ|
|Standard Arabic||Maghrebian Arabic|
Comments on a document showing some extended Arabic characters (used in some non-Arabic languages) that have since been approved: http://www.quicktopic.com/18/H/y4dBcRx9hQWK
|Code||N°||English Name||Nom français||Property Value Alias||Date|
Source: Codes for the representation of names of scripts / Codes pour la représentation des noms d’écritures, http://www.unicode.org/iso15924/iso15924-codes.html
Chtatou, Mohamed. 1992. Using Arabic script in writing the languages of the peoples of Muslim Africa. Rabat : Institute of African Studies.
Geonames, "Arabic characters," http://www.geonames.de/arabchar.html
______, "Unicode test page...: Arabic abjad - الأبجدية العربية (al-abǧadiyyâtu l-ʿarabiyyâ)" http://www.geonames.de/alphab.html#ara
Omniglot, "Arabic script," http://www.omniglot.com/writing/arabic.htm
Wikipedia, "Ajami script," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajami_script
______, "Alfabeto árabe," http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfabeto_%C3%A1rabe
______, "Alphabet arabe," http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabet_arabe
______, "Arabic alphabet," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_alphabet
* Note on the term "Ajami": This Arabic word is derived from a root that means "foreign person" usually meaning non-Arab or non-Arabic-speaking. In addition to being applied to use of Arabic writing for languages other than Arabic, it also means Iranian/Persian (person or culture) in the Mashrek dialects of Arabic.