I'm Iranian and here, Arabic script is what is used. many litterateurs believe that this script is not good for the Persian language and many of them think that it should be changed.

one of the reasons that I've heard many times is that left-to-right scripting is better than right-to-left, but I can't see why.

so I'm here to ask. thanks in advance.

  • 4
    Like many tools, an RTL/LTR writing system may be better/worse for a specific purpose. Unless you specify your target language's linguistic needs, nobody could say if LTR or RTL writing is "better" or not for it. Alternatively, you can ask what arguments the proponents have for RTL/LTR writing and why it should be retained/changed. Otherwise, this question leads to opinion-based answers. – bytebuster Apr 26 '19 at 19:20
  • Perhaps a bigger disadvantage of Arabic script for Persian is that vowels are less important for distinguishing between words in Semitic languages than in Indo-European languages. – Anton Sherwood May 2 '19 at 10:00
  • @AntonSherwood yes this reason is not very important for them, there are other bigger problems. but after I asked some of them, they told me it is hard to do mathematical or musical and etc. scripting when you are in an RTL system. – Peyman May 2 '19 at 10:41

If you write with your right hand and use an ink that needs to dry, it is a bit better to write left-to-right, to avoid smearing the ink. If you are typing on an older computer or typewriter, it is better to write left-to-write because it is (was) really difficult to write right-to-left, given that the machines were primarily set up for left-to-right scripts. These days, nobody uses squid ink or IBM PCs. Consistent direction is superior to alternating direction (you have to know whether you're on an odd line vs. an even line to know whether the current line is RTL or LTR), so boustrophedon poses an additional complication. Since in Arabic-script based languages numbers are written LTR, that could be a tiny disadvantage (switching direction), but still people cope, and it's only the programmers that would have to write code for systems that are not consistently LTR who suffer. But those problems have been solved.

I do not see any practical way to write Persian script LTR, so a change in direction would mean a change in alphabet, almost certainly Latin. You should consider the case of Tajik which used to be written in the Persian alphabet, then over the last century there were experiments with Latin and Cyrillic, and purportedly there is a plan to re-introduce Persian. Script changes tend to make old literature inaccessible, which in the case of Persian would be a disadvantage (not fatal, look at Turkish). Even so, older literature tends to get reprinted in contemporary alphabets, so that 150 year old Norwegian books get reprinted in contemporary Latin. I conclude that the LTR / RTL choice is a linguistic red herring.


No, there is nothing inherently superior about writing a script from left-to-right than right-to-left (or top-to-bottom or boustrophedon for that matter).

The only potential advantage in the modern world is that, since computers mainly deal with the basic Latin alphabet, adopting the Latin alphabet might make things slightly easier, but that problem is far from insuperable.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.