# How can I format a dictionary that mixes vertical and horizontal scripts?

Constructed Languages Asked on August 20, 2021

My conlang Atili is written in a vertical script. I’m having a hard time trying to imagine how to write out words in the Atili script within my dictionary. This is important because Atili spelling is not predictable, and the normal Romanization that I use for Atili is phonetic and thus does not convey how a word is meant to be spelled in the Atili script. Right now, I’m using a secondary Romanization as a proxy for the native script that does convey the spelling of words in the conscript, which leads to dictionary entries like the following:

azih   ÄZYIH n. (A) hand; (B) the first letter of the Atili alphabet, which represents the consonant /∅/

I would rather just write the Atili word in the native script, but I’m not sure how to sensibly mix the horizontal Latin alphabet with the vertical Atili script. I’m not looking for technical details about implementing such a thing, just how to lay out the entries on the page.

If you have a situation where the entry in the conscript is taller than the textual material discussing it, you’ll have to accept ‘wasted’ white space filling out the rectangle. Really, the only sensible way to do this if your textual material is in English is to have your conscript entry run down on the left edge of the rectangle, and fill in the English on the right.

If you have an alternative horizontal orthography (even if it uses the same characters, like happens in Chinese and Japanese), I would recommend using that for the dictionary/lexicon.

Correct answer by Jeff Zeitlin on August 20, 2021

In a dictionary, you'll sometimes want to mix text from the languages concerned within a block, or perhaps even a sentence. At that point, I believe there really is only one viable option: Rotating one of the scripts entirely. Yes, the one you rotate will be a bit misrepresented, but it works. For an example, see this picture from what seems to be a French book on the Mongolian language:

This is not me trying to discourage you to change, or even downplay, your conlang's directionality. Indeed, rotating the English is also an option. Though I'd probably suggest rotating whichever one features the least, and from your snippet that seems to be the Atili.

One last thing to keep in mind.
If Atili text runs top-to-bottom right-to-left like Chinese traditionally did (or bottom-to-top left-to-right), rotating it 90 degrees to match Latin alphabet text is simple, as is doing the opposite. But if it runs top-to-bottom right-to-left like traditional Mongolian (or bottom-to-top left-to-right), it gets a little bit more complicated. Assuming you rotate the Atili, then it either ends up as right-to-left text in the middle of your left-to-right Latin script text or you end up with the side normally facing the next line being the upper side rather than the lower side - neither is ideal, but either is fine.
The book from the example picture seems to have gone with the latter approach.

Answered by Sara J on August 20, 2021

## Related Questions

### Is there a specific term for a constructed writing system purportedly used for a conlang but actually for a natlang?

2  Asked on August 21, 2021

### Is any of the Wakandan writing in Black Panther used for something other than English?

1  Asked on August 21, 2021

### Could you have a language with only three words?

6  Asked on August 20, 2021 by rory-m-tims

### Implications of secundative alignment

1  Asked on August 20, 2021

### Has AI technology yet provide a language composed of multiple human languages yet?

4  Asked on August 20, 2021

### Is it reasonable for numerals to behave like verbs?

1  Asked on August 20, 2021

### Is there a structured toki pona dictionary/thesaurus?

3  Asked on August 20, 2021 by oliver-mason

### Should I include morphology in my proto language?

2  Asked on August 20, 2021 by tateran

### What is reduplication used for in natural languages?

1  Asked on August 20, 2021

### Usage of different plural systems in the same language

3  Asked on August 20, 2021 by keith-morrison

### Is there an open-source set of topics and vocabulary for making a language tutorial?

4  Asked on August 20, 2021 by jetpack

### How to make names in a conlang?

1  Asked on August 20, 2021

### How long do I need to influence language development?

2  Asked on August 20, 2021

### How to say, ‘Haters gonna Hate’ in Toki Pona

2  Asked on August 20, 2021

### How can I name my days of the week?

3  Asked on August 20, 2021

### How can I talk about weather without expletives?

4  Asked on August 20, 2021

### How much ambiguity for argument roles is possible without sacrificing comprehensibility?

0  Asked on August 20, 2021

### What to do when my conlang has a word that means something in one of my languages?

1  Asked on August 20, 2021

### Words for Mercy in Toki Pona?

2  Asked on August 20, 2021 by pureferret

### What things can la mark in Toki Pona?

1  Asked on August 20, 2021