I was looking for the letters of the Safaitic writing system of Ancient North Arabian (ANA) as text, online.

Safaitic is a well documented and researched writing system that was a prominent (if not the main) writing system of ANA used in the ancient Levant by trans Nabataean nomads traveling between southern Syria to northern Arabian peninsula.

My problem

I looked for a webpage with the letters as text as in the wiki article (and in links inside it) and ran various search queries in a search engine and all I found was images of petroglyphs with the letters or the language or some letters as image or videos about it.
By "as text" I meant letters such as English letters I humbly type from my keyboard → not an image; so if I copy-paste the letters (yes, from some chart) I get a letter which I can edit with a keyboard → as plain computer letters.


My question

Where can I find the letters of documented writing systems, as text, online?
Is there some open source standardized repository from which letters can be copied as text?

  • 2
    Google safaitic unicode, there are some proposals to add it, eg unicode.org/L2/L2010/10074r-n3773r-north-arabian.pdf. Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 3:06
  • 1
    What does "as text" mean? Are you looking for charts showing the relevant parts of Unicode?
    – Draconis
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 4:28
  • As text mean it will be letter such as I humbly type from my keyboard --- not an image; so if I copy-paste the letters (yes, from some chart) I get a letter which I can edit with a keyboard, and not an image... Just plain computer letters in a given language.
    – user24141
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 4:45
  • @JohnDoea you say "just" but actually adding writing systems to the Unicode standard and then making them available as fonts on computers can be incredibly complicated. You ask as if you expect things to be available on computers as "letters", as opposed to images, but as easily to images. There's a reason why obscure writing systems are often shown as images... it's either because most people's fonts don't include that writing system, or Unicode itself doesn't include it. Looks like it's the latter in this case.
    – LjL
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 22:18
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is about computers, not linguistics. I suspect this will not be a popular opinion, but that's fine, I'll just leave this here for the record and it won't get closed then.
    – LjL
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 22:20

1 Answer 1


Most well documented writing systems have been encoded in Unicode, at least to some degree. You can see a list of supported scripts here and code charts for each script here.

A few scripts (including some that have been assigned ISO-15924 codes) are not yet encoded, though some of those are pending. If you wish to type using one of these scripts, you would need to find (or create) a specialized font. Some of these fonts just replace standard Latin letters with new glyphs, while others use Unicode's Private Use Area (e.g. fonts that support the ConScript Unicode Registry). In both cases, remember that text written this way is unlikely to display properly elsewhere.

Safaitic has been encoded in Unicode, as part of the Old North Arabian Unicode block. You may, however, encounter two issues in using it. First, your computer's default font pakcage may not include that block (mine doesn't). Second, the block unifies multiple Ancient North Arabian variants, and the default glyphs don't reflect the Safaitic forms. It may therefore be more convenient to use the Old South Arabian Unicode block instead, which seems to have better support and is arguably a little more visually similar: e.g. 𐩨𐩧𐩫 for brk.

The method of actually typing these Unicode characters depends on the platform you're using (though remember that all platforms at least support copy-and-pasting).

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