Please tell me about Arabic alphabetical lists
August 21, 2013 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone who writes Arabic tell me what a proper Arabic alphabetical list should look like? Can anyone who knows XSLT help me with this Arabic list once we know how it should look?

I need to create an Arabic alphabetical list, by which I mean that both the list labels and the list items should be in Arabic.

So instead of

a. One
b. Two
c. Three

it should be:

أ. واحد
ب. اثنان
ج. ثلاثة

(Not sure if that's correct, I let Google translate that, but you get my drift.)

My problem is twofold:

1. I don't know the order of the complete alphabet. I'm guessing it should be one of the ones on this page, but can anyone tell me which of those would be used in a business document?

2. If I tell xslt to generate the list, using

<xsl:number format="ا." xml:lang="ar-EG">

It will generate a list like this:

ا. عام
ب. عام
ة. عام
ت. عام
ث. عام
ج. عام
ح. عام
خ. عام
د. عام
ذ. عام
ر. عام
ز. عام
س. عام
ش. عام
ص. عام
ض. عام
ط. عام
ظ. عام
ع. عام
غ. عام
اا. عام
اب. عام
اة. عام

There is a character popping up in third spot that is not in the normal order, and the list of characters is a lot shorter than the one in Wikipedia. So what gives? Why is it doing that? And does anyone know how to make xslt generate a list using the proper letters?

(I'd ask on an XSLT forum but I need to know the proper list order first, I figured I'd have more chance here.)
posted by Skyanth to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Arabic lists use abjad order, which is different from the order used for alphabetization. This Wikipedia article has an explanation and a full list of Arabic letters in abjad order.

Your xslt-generated list is alphabetical (ie. the order that would be used to sort lists of words). The third character in this list is tāʼ marbūṭah. It's a cross between the letters ت and ه‍ used to mark the Arabic feminine noun and adjective suffix. It isn't actually considered a letter and can only come at the end of a word, but it has a position in the sort order.
posted by nangar at 7:32 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

correction: "It isn't actually considered a separate letter..."

I have no idea why the xslt-generated list cuts off at غ and starts over with two-character sequences. It shouldn't be doing that.
posted by nangar at 8:23 AM on August 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks nangar, that helped me a lot already!
posted by Skyanth at 12:29 AM on August 22, 2013

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