How did the slash ("/") character move to right-to-left languages?
July 29, 2011 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Wikipedia's article on the slash character dates it back to ancient Rome, but doesn't give much history beyond that. Looking at some Arabic websites, it appears the slashes go in the same direction, though the direction of text is different. Is the slash direction the same for all languages? Does all slash usage originate with the Romans or did other languages start using slashes independently? And was it spread from one language to another via some non-language usage (e.g. math) or via written language?
posted by scottreynen to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Blog on the history of punctuation. Previously on MeFi.

I don't think he's done the slash yet, but maybe he takes requests.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:42 PM on July 29, 2011

It goes backwards on Windows.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:45 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I love Shady Characters, but he hasn't covered slash yet.

What exactly goes backwards on Windows? I can do a backslash in English, but that's not the norm if I'm typing something like "and/or" and the few Arabic sites I found with slashes all appeared to be using "/" in that sort of context.
posted by scottreynen at 4:01 PM on July 29, 2011

Directory separators.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:07 PM on July 29, 2011

b1tr0t refers to file paths C:\Windows\bizarre\conventions versus Unix /usr/local/doc/forward

The wikipedia on backslashes discusses ONLY ASCII and programming uses, suggesting thaty forward slashes are the only ones used in natural languages period ?
posted by oblio_one at 4:09 PM on July 29, 2011

It's not clear to me how much of the short Wikipedia history applies outside English, since the terms themselves are specific to the direction of text. A "forward slash" is one that leans toward the right, but right is only "forward" in left-to-right languages.
posted by scottreynen at 4:21 PM on July 29, 2011

« Older Looking for a new manual typewriter that will last...   |   How do I unlock this old Cingular phone to use... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.