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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2016
The Golden age of printing for Islamicists surely was the 19th century, when skilled European and occasionally Middle Eastern and Indian typesetters, could compose in as many fonts as an author could write. One reads Goldziher’s Die Zāhiriten with envy, not only for the meticulous transliterated Arabic and generous footnotes at the bottom of the page, but for the extensive Arabic quotations inserted into the text and notes. Since few of the Arabic texts he cited had been published, Goldziher provided his readers with his evidence in the original. Those were the days; and a new golden age for Islamicists may be upon us. With computers, not only footnotes on the page but transliteration and multiscript publishing are suddenly feasible and even simple.
The items discussed below take advantage of the flexibility of the Macintosh system to let even casual computer users produce Arabic. These programs make it possible for anyone easily to produce text in Islamic script (Arabic, Persian, Ottoman, Urdu, etc.) in camera-ready form.
1 Handwritten Arabicy jīms properly have four forms; the reduction to three forms is a 19th-century concession to problems of type design and setting. See for instance, W. Wright et al., A Grammar of the Arabic Language pp. 3–4.
2 I have found that you can fake Arabic using the Arabic system and, for example, the American version of Microsoft Word, but the performance is eccentric and frustrating, and works only in an emergency.
3 On Unicode, see “Notes from the AOS Computing Committee: What Comes after ASCII?” Newsletter of the American Oriental Society no. 12, October 1991, pp. 7–9; “Unicode: A Technical Introduction.” This and other documentation is available from Unicode Consortium, Secretariat, c/o Metaphor Computer Systems, 1965 Charleston Rd, Mountain View, CA 94043.
4 Dan Varisco calls my attention to a program called al-Nussūs, which is evidently not distributed in the United States.
5 It is worth mentioning that Paradigm Software, which distributes various Middle East-language software, seems to be very helpful and knowledgeable. A user may very well need technical advice or assistance at one point or another with this software, and it is good to buy it from a firm that wants to help their customers to do well.
6 Professor Andrew Rippen kindly informs me that Version 2.7 does handle footnotes.
7 I would like to thank George Saliba and Bustami Khir, both heavy users of al-Nashir and both helpful guides to its strengths and weaknesses.
8 For reviews of Nisus’s English version (which has more or less the same features as the Arabic/English version), see MacUser, July 1989 and February 1990.
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