« previous post | next post »

Speaking of biscriptalism, Guy Almog called my attention to an interesting project called Aravrit (that is, Arabic + Hebrew [ivrit]).

From the home page:

Aravrit is a project of utopian nature. It presents a set of hybrid letters merging Hebrew and Arabic.

This new writing system is composed of an Arabic letter on the upper half and a Hebrew letter on the bottom half. The characteristic features of each letter were retained, however in both languages the fusion required some compromises to be made, yet maintaining readability and with limited detriment to the original script. In Aravrit, one can read the language he/she chooses, without ignoring the other one, which is always present.

Judging from Aravrit's Facebook page, many of the details of this new, hybrid script were inspired by features found on Yemenite manuscripts.

Both the website and the Facebook page of Aravrit are amply illustrated with pictures, charts, tables, and videos showing how the script was designed and what it looks like in action.

A noble enterprise!


  1. Sybil said,

    November 23, 2016 @ 6:22 pm

    There is something of an almost nostalgic charm and sweetness about this project: optimism too. I'm just letting myself enjoy it.

    The video at your first link that shows the letters being constructed is very well-done. I admit I have not been successful in decoding (or reverse-engineering) many of the texts, but I'm tired… and it's an interesting puzzle.

  2. TR said,

    November 23, 2016 @ 6:25 pm

    Interesting. I'm impressed that — on the Hebrew side at least, which is all I can really speak to — there's very little loss of legibility: the words are mostly identifiable at a glance.

  3. Y said,

    November 23, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

    I haven't looked carefully to see how she accommodates letters for sounds which only exist in one language, like פּ /p/ or ض /dˤ/.

    It looks like a nice if impractical experiment, at least from the Hebrew side of things. I'd be curious to know how it appears to Arabic eyes, from the esthetic as well as the cultural/political points of view.

  4. Mara K said,

    November 23, 2016 @ 9:01 pm

    How do you deal with grammatical and lexical differences between Hebrew and Arabic when using this script? Or is it for slogans and other things that are easily translated?

  5. Sedeer said,

    November 24, 2016 @ 3:25 am

    The Arabic is legible, but Aravit uses disconnected letter forms, which isn't done in Arabic and makes reading the text somewhat uncomfortable.

  6. Johan P said,

    November 24, 2016 @ 4:48 am

    Interesting! It reminds me of a very similar project from a few years ago that attemts to reconcile the alphabets of the former yugoslavia into one script, both cyrillic and latin:

    Of course, that one is made easier by the fact that Serbian and Croatian are still pretty much the same language.

    (They should make a Hindi-Urdu one! Though of course Nastaliq and Devanagari run in opposite directions…)

  7. GeorgeW said,

    November 24, 2016 @ 9:12 am

    I (native English speaker) can read Arabic fluently and Hebrew to some extent. I found this, at least initially, confusing. And, as Sedeer says above, the disconnected Arabic letters take some adjustment.

    Also, I guess I am missing what the benefit would be.

  8. Coby Lubliner said,

    November 24, 2016 @ 10:30 am

    There is a good article about this project (and another similar one) in Haaretz.

  9. Philip R said,

    November 26, 2016 @ 10:54 pm

    Although it does not seem to have gained a similar kind of attention, some time ago Nizar Habash displayed a similar vision, including a language/writing system called Semiti (or Semitish), in his Palisra project, Nizar created "an Esperanto-like constructed language named Semiti. Semiti is a homogenous mix of Arabic and Hebrew drawing on shared aspects of the two languages but with its own beauty, elegance and richness. So far, we have completed a description of the phonology, morphology and syntax of Semiti and are revising a lexicon of 1,500 words. A basic phrase book is also in the works. The language is designed in a way to be easily recognizable by both Arabic and Hebrew speakers. It is also simpler and more regular than Arabic or Hebrew and thus easy to learn and use by speakers of other languages."

  10. Michael Watts said,

    November 27, 2016 @ 12:09 am

    GeorgeW, the benefit appears to be symbolizing peace and accommodation between Hebrews and Arabs. (This is my interpretation of what the Aravrit people think Aravrit is good for, not my assessment of its actual effects.)

RSS feed for comments on this post