Monday, 26 March 2007

Typing in Arabic!

Few months ago I was given the task of listing all the Arabic books that belonged to the late Dr. Zaki Badawi who was one of the highest Muslim authorities in the UK. I have spent many hours in his house going through the vast Arabic library he had and with the help of his English born widow, I managed to write down by hand all of the books names, authors, publishers and so on. Then came the really difficult task which I am still stuck with, to type everything into a proper list, the only problem is that my experience in typing is only in English, I am not familiar with the Arabic keyboard but I promised Mrs. Badawi so I had to get on with it! After typing about 2 thirds of the list (all together the list is about 60 pages) which took me about a month as I only type with one finger as my eyes are scanning the keyboard, my computer decided it had enough and it committed suicide and it took the list with it! I could not believe this would happen to me, I mean I typed about 40 pages of Arabic books names, each word probably takes me one minutes to type (btw I am quite fast typing in English) its all gone for ever :o(
So few days ago I started the typing again, my back hurts, my eyes are almost gone and I have a continuous migraine from staring at the damn keyboard, I mean most of these books are either Islamic or historical books with names such as ارشاد النقاد الى تيسير الاجتهاد or الرسالة القشيرية .
Most of the books are fantastic and I would love to read them but to type! I really am having a difficult time and can not wait to finish, I am on page 25 at the moment.

24 comments:

Ema said...

you remind me of picco:)

I think it's a good oppertunity to be able to approach this number of great books despite the ability to read them too.
but with time you will be able to get ued to the arabic typing.
i learned how to type arabic when my dad once asked for my help to type a whole chemistry book for high school education, and of course he had no idea about typing, i had to take full resposability for it and so i learned arabic typing 3'asban 3an 3eny :P

good luck

DaMoon said...

Oh poor you!!!! I woulda given up right there!!!..lol enough is enough, I hate typing in Arabic too! I asked our IT at work to not install Arabic on my pc so no one bugs me with typing letters in Arabic, hehehe, u know I have an idea! why don't u fax da left pages to Maysoon, she'll finish it in no time, "mashallah" she types fast both English and Arabic; I'd love to help if I could....
rabe e3awen anyway :)

Beacon said...

Hi AL,
When I read that you lost all that hard work, it gave me a shiver down my spine! I felt so sorry for you, because it happened to me before. I know of a PhD student who nearly lost her work, and she thought she really did lose 3 years of very hard work, but thank god she found a disk with a back up of her work lying around which she totally forgot about, thus saving her from quite a tragedy!
If you are still using the computer that crashed, i.e. the same hard disk, you could download data recovery software, that may do the trick, I tried it once before and it sometimes works, also there are some companies/engineers who can recover data for you for a price (I hope not: "I will recover the lost work, but than I'll have to kill you!"..lol).
As we all know AL, and I'm sure you know, always back up your documents, flash disk, email it to your email etc....
Hey I've got a good idea for you,....lol, stack the books in neat piles (In Arabic Alphabetical order) or leave them in their book cases, use a nice digital camera, and take photos of them, showing their titles, than you could save the JPEG files, according to alphabet! A lazy way of doing things, but very quick! And that way you have the pics of the original books, just in case any one steals them!...lol...a lazy idea...lol.
Enough of this stupidity, I hear you say,,,,I will spare you from any more nonsense...
Good luck with your inventory, I'm sure your hard work won't go in vain!

God bless,

Beacon

cofman said...

Big job you are doing ya Anglo, nearly half way through … the second half is much easier
well done

AngloLibyan said...

Thanks Ema, this was a good story to share with us :o)

Damoon I might just do that to Maysoon, she might give you Tri7a though :o)

Beacon, I treid data recovery sofware but the disk is completely dead!!
I have learnt my lesson and now I always save a back up on my memory stick.

Take pictures of books!...emmmmm good idea except there are few thousands of them :o)
thank you for the endless supply of ideas, more please :o)

inshaAllah ya cofman, thank you

white african said...

oh no anglo poor you.

i bet you though by the end of this your arabic typing will have improved so much if not already :)

BuJ said...

ya3teek el 3afye
don't fret.
i would find it hard too.. since i type fast in english but not arabic..

i would send the pages to my dad and ask him to get a secretary or someone to type it back in dubai.. it will take her a day or so and u get it back next day service.. as good as FedEx!

Maya M said...

Why not type in English and then convert it to Arabic by Replace command?

Safia speaks said...

Why don´t you just hire a secretary?

I have translated some of dr. Badawi´s work from Arabic into Danish, so I know what you mean.

My laptop has only Latin letters but since I remember the Arabic letter places by head, things go fairly easy for me - but not at the same speed as my Latin writings! Biggest problems for me are the letters ذ د ظ and some of the hamzas and fattas and kasras of the alif letter. They are placed on illogical weird places on the keyboard.

In case of doubt, there is a program in MS Windows called On Screen Keyboard that you can call toi help you. Click START then RUN and write "OSK" and hit ENTER, then the OnScreenKeyboard will appear on your desktop.

Just stay on top of the typing and the routine is gonna appear all by itself around page 100 or so.

Good luck!

Safia speaks said...

Silly me!
I have translated dr. Jamal Badawi´s works, not dr. Zaki Badawi´s.
So sorry...

AngloLibyan said...

thanks whiteafrican, I want my typing to improve now but its not happening :o)

Buj, what is your dad's fax number?
only joking :o)

maya m, the arabic language is very complicated (probably the Bulgarian language too) these translating softwares seem to do it completely wrong plus I have to type many names, these can not be translated but thanks for your help anyway.

Safia, I wish I could hire a secretary :o(
I am familiar with the on screen keyboard but im not sure if its faster than using a normal keyboard.
Page 100!! i hope I never have to do that much :o)

MaySoon said...

Anglo I am sorry for losing the almost-finished list I hate it when stupid things like that happen...
When I was reading the post I thought I’ll ask you to scan the handwritten list and send it to me, then I saw DaMoon has already suggested it.. So just send me some pages with a deadline and I will do my best :o) at least I can help if you still want to improve your Arabic typing :o)

AngloLibyan said...

Maysoon that is so kind of you :o)
some pages are on their way to you!

Brave Heart said...

i hate typing by any language, i hope Microsoft well develop on programme that can typing by voice, just speak to the pc. it will be very good invention.till that happen, keep typing by arabic AL.

plz AL remove this word verification, it drives me mad.

AngloLibyan said...

brave heart I think that software exists already :o)
I am going to remove this word verification now and hope that I do not get SPAM comments that I used to get.

Maya M said...

I'm sorry I wasn't precise. I didn't mean any software other than the usual word-processing programs (I use MS Word).
I've just read the Wikipedia page about the Arabic alphabet and what I'm thinking is (1) poor little Amir and (2) those who dream of a global Caliphate must be prevented from realizing their dreams at any cost! :)
We usually write our E-mails in Latin letters because the Cyrillic texts too often are corrupted when transfered to another computer or opened by another program. Sometimes we like an e-mail message so much that want to have it in a form easy to read. One option of course is to retype it in Cyrillic letters. Another one is to directly replace the Latin letters with the Cyrillic ones. This is what I meant. E.g. the Cyrillic letter encoding the consonant "S" looks like the Latin "C". You open the text in MS Word and use the Replace All command. So in a less than a minute you replace all Ses with the C-like letter. Repeat the operation 30 times (30 letters) and the work is done.
If you want to try this system, you'll have to use 2 Latin symbols to encode a single Arab letter, because there are too many Arab letters. E.g. you may use Q for qaf isolated, Q1 for qaf initial (if it's different - I don't see well), Q2 for qaf medial and Q3 for qaf final. The code is for your use only, so you can create it as you wish, just remember never to use a Latin symbol or combination to encode more than one Arabic symbol.
Another idea has just struck me: Have you any Arabic dictionary installed on your computer? What about copying whole words from there and pasting them to your file?

AngloLibyan said...

thanks maya, this sounds so complicated but I will try it.
you seem to know about Arabic a lot more than me :o)

weldemdina said...

When I am at work I usually use a handy on screen Arabic keyboard which is quite good, just type using the mouse, its ok for short sentences and the link is: http://www.islamweb.net/php/php_arabic/keyboard/keyboard.htm. and to Sis Safia, you could buy a sticky Arabic letters for your laptop keyboard; you could order it online or any computer shop.

AngloLibyan said...

weldemdina :o) sounds like a good blog name, maybe you should get a blog.
Thanks mate I will check it out.

BuJ said...

Well.. thanks for removing word verification..

I think you should look into getting someone in an Arab country to type for you.. wallah arya7

like we say.. heen irshak wala theen dahrak
(insult your money rather than insulting your back)
insult here means abuse, or rather use.

AngloLibyan said...

buj, I hope I do not have to do that again, it was a one off Arabic assignment.
anyway a very kind Libyan blogger did help me a lot and I am very grateful to Maysoon :o)

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