gin & kerosene (ugly_boy) wrote in linguaphiles,
gin & kerosene
ugly_boy
linguaphiles

Two texts, one line

I saw this on a Persian* friend's Facebook:



How would you read something like this? Farsi is read from right to left, while English is read from left to right, so how do you read a passage containing text in both languages on the same line? In a document you might be able to format something like this in such a way that minimizes confusion, but when typing or pasting into many applications it can be difficult to maintain formatting. How do you read the title?
First Chapter "فصل اول "اعتکاف

I'm guessing that the English text comes first and that the Farsi text is the title of the first chapter, but I am in no way sure. The rest of the text presents another problem. It appears that there is one sentence in English followed by one sentence in Farsi. The Farsi sentence spans the second half of line two and all of line three, a result of the my browser's and Facebook's formatting, and not necessarily something that can be predicted when typing such a passage. Does this present any problems?

I realize that, in practice, savvy bilingual readers are probably quite adept and getting around problems presented by the combination of their favorite two languages, but I'm wondering if this sort of thing does present any problems for readers. For the professional translators and typesetters, are there formal guidelines?

Even if it presents no practical problems for (most) readers, I think it's an interesting phenomenon for us linguaphiles to consider.
*She self-identifies as Persian and I've heard her refer to the language interchangeably as Persian and Farsi. Perhaps I should also mention that I can neither speak nor read Farsi.
Tags: english, farsi, multiple languages
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