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Louis Chor

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I have an interest in why the text direction of written Chinese was invented to run from top to bottom and from right to left (tbrl). There seems to be very little study on this topic, although much has been done in other aspects of Chinese etymology. The tbrl text format is the mainstream practice in Japan, and still lives on in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Subject areas and related deposits

  • Chinese characters

    • Left-to-Right or Right-to-Left? An Inquiry into the Text Direction of Chinese Characters

      Discussions on the unique vertical text direction of written or printed Chinese are scarce. A common view on why Chinese characters were invented to move vertically across the writing medium maintains that vertical text was the result of using bamboo strips for writing Chinese characters in the distant past. This essay debunks this common view with my basic argument that bamboo strips are human artifacts made for a purpose. The purpose is to have characters moving from top to bottom with columns of characters progressing from right to left, a heaven-and-earth/east-to-west configuration, regardless of the writing medium. The concept of text as presentation is also brought forth. Vertical text is now still widely used and sustained in Japan, but rare in China and Korea, and becoming less popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

    • Online Vertical Layout: Chinese Characters, Images and the Web

      This essay introduces simple HTML coding for creating vertical text on the Web. This coding can also enable images to move horizontally across the screen in a panoramic presentation. Since the coding is a Microsoft adaptation of a version of Cascading Style Sheets 3 (CSS3), presently it only works on Internet Explorer.