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VMs: Feedback on: Are there samples of dotless Arabic in existence?
I put the case to sci.lang and, as I foresaw,
promptly got an answer from Yusuf B. Gursey.
Here it is:
even the earliest surviving islamic administrative papyrus
of 22 AH, written in an early cursive script has occassional
dots and even occassional vowel signs. so people must have
found them useful early.
: Another question now. Could someone quite fluent
: in Arabic unambiguously read a text written without
: the dots? If not systematically, at least with, say,
: a high level of confidence?
usually such texts are of predictable content.
coins, monuments, tughras, charts, annotations etc.
one usually knows what to expect.
(come to think of it, the manuscript in question
was supposed to be an astronomical work, right?)
one dotless or nearly dotless form of writing that had
considerable use was siya^qat (known by its partially
turkified name, hence the -t) writing. this was a
shorthand used in financial and trade work, also in
official registers of various types. dots were deliberatly
avoided on the grounds that these could be easily altered.
the lack of dots were compensated by the predictable nature
of the texts and by using specialized forms for different
words (which are frequently abreviated). the joining is
also irregular. it's really a specialized form of shorthand.
the numbers are written in arabic (language, regardless of
the language of the text) and abbreviated, resulting in an
alternative numeral system.
there is quite variation on these from region to region.
historians (archivists, economic historians etc.)
have to learn it.
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