Nope, Not Arabic

A collection of things that are not Arabic.

Nope, Not Arabic is an archive of things that are not Arabic. It documents instances of butchered Arabic script in public, from major motion pictures to billboards to video games and everything in between.

What is happening?

Computers are designed to handle the subset of the Latin script required to manipulate American English first and foremost. Every other writing system is an afterthought, and Arabic is particularly poorly served. Most of the images in this archive are the result of non-Arab graphic designers pasting Arabic text into mainstream graphic design software that cannot handle anything but Latin characters and not checking with a native speaker.

I have written about this at length at The Increment and the Decolonising the Digital Journal, and I spoke at DECONSTRUCT 2019 on the subject.

What do I do if I see butchered Arabic?

Contact me on Mastodon or email with a screenshot or photograph and information on where and when you saw it and I will be happy to add it to the archive. You should also contact the people responsible, if possible, and tell them they are embarrassing themselves and offending a billion people.

How do I avoid butchering Arabic?

My article at The Increment gets into it.

Who's behind this?

Hi, I'm Ramsey Nasser and I do research into the hidden cultural assumptions present in computing among other things. Arabic is my native language so I lose sleep over this shit.

This archive was originally on tumblr but as that platform has degraded over the years I decided to move everything to a git repo where I have more control over the content.

"spotted on Caltrain, the regional rail line between San Francisco and San Jose"


Jun 11th 2024

"Spotted in Hamburg March 20th 2022"

via email

Jan 24th 2023

"Spotted in Berlin on Jan 24th, 2023"

via email

Jan 24th 2023

"I received this from the Dutch government yesterday giving info in vaccinations."

via email

Jan 12th 2023

"Seen on a bodega in Bed-Stuy.

Bonus points — the Hebrew is also backwards, the diacritics are nonsensical, and Hebrew is not a language spoken in the neighborhood — that would be yiddish, a completely different language written in the same script."

via email

Jul 30th 2022

"the model is 'Topher DiMaggio'

he has it for ten years or more

it's supposed meaning is: the journey (of my life) means a lot"

via email

Jun 22nd 2022

via @Shaboiiiii

May 3rd 2022

"I saw this on a 2009 movie called 'Gamer' starring Gerard Butler."

via email

Apr 19th 2022

via @Rowaida_Abdel (brought to our attention by @zora)

Apr 5th 2022

via @nazihfares

Apr 4th 2022

via email

Feb 14th 2022

via email

Feb 14th 2022

via @rim_aj (reported by @tha_rami)

Jan 3rd 2022

via @M150Kendrick (reported by @tha_rami)

Dec 27th 2021

via @MariamAboelezz (reported by @georgionic)

Dec 17th 2021

via @JrLorian (reported by @tha_rami)

Dec 14th 2021

That's the second one from the Cowboy Bebop. The original anime had Arabic script in it and they got it right.

via @EltaibSami (reported by @nazihfares)

Nov 21st 2021

via @mtajri (reported by @Salamatizm)

Nov 21st 2021

via @Salamatizm

Nov 20th 2021

via @tha_rami

Nov 6th 2021

via @ChiefLief420

Oct 19th 2021

via @mohk28 and @tha_rami

Oct 17th 2021

via @pixel8td and @tha_rami

Sep 15th 2021

via @lunasorcery and @tha_rami (original)

Aug 31st 2021

via @frankahummels and @tha_rami

Aug 29th 2021

Nice flag, too.

via @mokatia and @ahmedelgabri

Aug 26th 2021

From a TV Show called "Mayday", Season 11 episode 9

via @KaihatsuYT

Aug 14th 2021

From the World Trade Center Memorial in New York

via @YasserIM and @tha_rami

Aug 10th 2021

via @TheOnlyWarman and @tha_rami

Aug 10th 2021

via @joly_8 and @tha_rami

Aug 6th 2021

via @Clo_Bigot

Jul 9th 2021

via @joeyayoub

Jul 8th 2021

via @humanprovince

Jul 8th 2021

"I saw this at the entrance of a small mall in Germany and it hurt my eyes and heart."

via email

Jun 8th 2021

via @foaadk

Jun 8th 2021

League of Legends Wild Rift on Ipad

via @Salamatizm

Jun 7th 2021

Spotted on a hat by VANS Europe.

via @CamelSound and @MissLayla__x

Mar 3rd 2021

Spotted in the video game "Maquette" by Annapurna Interactive, more images at the source.

via @Hyo_Joestar

Mar 1st 2021

Spotted in an example for a text rendering library

via @SpAM_CAN

Mar 1st 2021

Spotted in James Verini's book "They Will Have to Die Now"

via @ObieWilcox

Mar 1st 2021

Happy Valentine's Day

via @tarja_pk

Feb 13th 2021

Spotted in Born A Champion (2021)

via @Salamatizm

Feb 6th 2021

"Multiscript Support: Arabic"

via @TypeStage (submitted by @KhaledGhetas)

Feb 2nd 2021

via @sfahmy

Jan 20th 2021

Spotted in Hitman 3

via @RashBandai

Jan 19th 2021

they're literally trying to say "give up", and, well,

via @DenisVi

Jan 13th 2021

"courtesy of the Hague's open market"

via @nazihfares

Jan 1st 2021

happy new year

via @malekawt

Dec 31st 2020

from a grimes video

via DM from @thearabcynic

Dec 18th 2020

"An ad I received from Ubisoft regarding one of their upcoming games, Scott Pilgrim."

via email from Mohammed Maher Abed

Dec 17th 2020

spotted in the wild on a box of harissa

Dec 11th 2020

from a music video

via email from George H

Dec 11th 2020

via @JikissGame

Dec 8th 2020

via @ManishEarth

Dec 6th 2020

wemmen do not be shopping for arabic 😔

via DM from @sonyameesh

Dec 3rd 2020

Pandemic Edition

via DM from @sygma

Nov 30th 2020

via @nazihfares

Nov 29th 2020

via @Justin_D_Martin

Feb 29th 2020

Spotted by f00f at a bar (literally) named C'mon Everybody in Brooklyn.

Feb 14th 2020

via anonymous Twitter direct message.

Feb 3rd 2020

via @IronCurtaiNYC

Feb 3rd 2020

via @tha_rami

Nov 14th 2019

via @behdadesfahbod

Oct 10th 2019

(BREAKING NEWS) no one working at the the late show can read arabic via my family whatsapp group chat

Oct 23rd 2018

For some reason I don’t trust this advice.

Jun 12th 2018

“By the age of 35, you should’ve seen broken Arabic at least a few hundred times. (This one was freshly spotted at a Philz Coffee)” via @_karan

May 22nd 2018

Nothing says “happy Ramadan” like butchering Islam’s holy language. via @arabictype

May 22nd 2018

This was fixed as of April 11, 2018 S K N A H T github via @AhmedElGabri

Apr 10th 2018

via @karoumparis

Mar 10th 2018

Spotted in Peleng Island by my parents, who confirm that this is not, in fact, Arabic.

Feb 20th 2018

Spotted on Netflix. via @indiesaudi

Jan 21st 2018

“France literally has millions of Arabs living here, but no one thought to ask one of them to write this Christmas sign outside Notre Dame.” via @ConorMichael28

Dec 21st 2017

Butchered Arabic at all altitudes! via @BornaIz & @KhaledGhetas

Dec 9th 2017

It’s not like your business model involves people from other countries or anything. via @sandsubramanian

Dec 4th 2017

122,492,469 rocking out to butchered Arabic via mounim

Dec 4th 2017

¡̣̥̫͎̼͍͝ǝ̰̙̲ǹ͖̩u̱̝̠̳̪ǝ̭ʌ̛̫̹̻̰̪̻u̩̺̥͓̟͠ͅǝᴉq̳͝ͅ via canttouchthisifyouaintblack

Dec 4th 2017

non, ce n'est pas arabe via @Conseil_Etat

Oct 2nd 2017

More like SUFFER amirite via @tha_rami

Oct 2nd 2017

via @karoumparis

Sep 27th 2017

Good thing I checked the ingredients! I’m allergic to Not Arabic! via @sygma

Sep 16th 2017

Treasures are usually rare, but this butchered Arabic is all too common. via @JamilAlio

Aug 31st 2017

More like “don’t forget to hoplessly butcher this language” via @AhmedElGabri

Aug 21st 2017

via aleadras: “In Málaga, Andalusia. Campaign against sexual harrassment. “No” means “no”, but “al” means… ?”

Jul 15th 2017

Very welcoming… via @karoumparis

Jul 15th 2017

via Hrant Papazian: “But… but… cats!”

Jul 11th 2017

via Nick D: “I was putting together Arabic examples for a presentation and happened to notice this restaurant Did you mean قبلة ?”

Jul 11th 2017

via Nick D: “From the trailer for the new ‘The Mummy’ movie” We’d need a whole other blog to address the tired racist stereotype of a masked Arab firing a rocket, but for now, no, that sign in the background is not Arabic.

Jul 11th 2017

via hellpe: “From Legion S01E01. Not Arabic, am I right?” you are as right as they are wrong, my friend.

Jul 11th 2017

From the national broadcasting corporation in Spain, RTVE: القسم العربي via aleadras

Jul 11th 2017

From a mosque in Seville, calling to prayer. via aleadras

Jul 11th 2017

Cultura, sure. via aleadras

Jul 11th 2017
Jul 11th 2017

tax-free / arabic-free shopping!

Jul 11th 2017

The only thing worse than the lazy butchering of a language cast into metal is the fact that they were trying to say “Heritage Walk” via @porglezomp

Jul 8th 2017

Nothing says “love” like butchering a language

Apr 5th 2017

Make Arabic Legible Again! via vice and instagram.

Mar 14th 2017

It’s nice to check into a hostel be welcomed in your own language, unless, well, you know via @tha_rami

Feb 12th 2017

You should get a refund on whatever you paid for that sign, because that’s not Arabic. via @sygma

Feb 2nd 2017

Sorry, CBS’s Madam Secretary, that’s not “another Benghazi” because that’s not even Arabic. via @Rowaida_Abdel

Dec 31st 2016

My “shopping” won’t be “happy” until you get the “Arabic” right. via moustafachamli

Dec 31st 2016

Make Arabic Nope Again via @tha_rami

Nov 28th 2016

Four year old Russian girl knows more Arabic that whatever adult designed that t-shirt. via @tha_rami from this video

Oct 25th 2016

A mug that says “tradition” in a bunch of languages, none of which are Arabic. via @mooeypoo

Oct 5th 2016

This video opens with a touching montage of names and falls flat on its face in the first two seconds. via @kamalmarhubi

Oct 5th 2016

Arabic gibberish pretending to make sense. Nice try Uncharted 3!

Sep 21st 2016

Milan, Piazza Duomo, XMas season 2014.

Sep 21st 2016

$50 million budget and no one working on Arrival once grabbed the nearest Arab and said “does this look like bullshit to you?” via @tha_rami

Sep 21st 2016

the Wise Man smiled “ no., that is not asrabic” but the trolls are too Busy. posting the latest hash tag via @dril

Aug 24th 2016

We’ll use blockchains and modern cryptography to reimagine DNS and shed all its problems! Well, not all its problems

Aug 16th 2016

A wild POKÉMON GO appeared!

Aug 16th 2016

SORRY NOPE NOT ARABIC via @noorsobs and @mistakoo

Jun 27th 2016

Guess how much of Captain America: Civil War’s $250 million budget was spent on checking the Arabic via @tha_rami

May 29th 2016

The Future of Language Publishing is a lot like the present. Full video. via @publishergeek, @KhaledGhetas

May 29th 2016

Sit back, relax, soak in the not arabic. via @jenskutilek, @khaledghetas

May 28th 2016

And the way we write “arabic” apparently. Via @edeng

Apr 21st 2016

Mirrored text is a first! via @smnmassi

Mar 29th 2016

Can’t tell what you were going for, but you didn’t arrive at Arabic, friend. via @sygma

Nov 12th 2015

Enjoy a tall cold drink of not even close to arabic! via @sygma

Oct 15th 2015

This image was used as the banner for the original tumblr blog.

via @edeng. Original article is on Aljazeera, photo © Getty Images, Sajjad Hussain

Aug 29th 2015

You wanted مقاتل, which means fighter, but you got م ق ا ت ل, which just means ignorant motherfucker.

Aug 29th 2015

“i’m not even sure what’s going on here” — @edeng

Aug 29th 2015

You had one job. Via @karlremarks, @MistaKoo

Aug 29th 2015

Welcome to not actually caring about rendering Arabic correctly! via @sygma

Aug 16th 2015

hcsibarA thcin tsi sad dnu ,hcstueD niek tsi seiD Museumkwartier, Vienna Via @tha_rami.

Jul 9th 2015

Best one yet. Via Jane.

Jun 27th 2015

Black Ops 3, E3 2015. I don’t have anything witty to say. Fuck this shit.

Jun 15th 2015

HEAR Asbestor? THINK Prevention! READ Something that isn’t close to Arabic via Twitter

Mar 29th 2015

Neither does Arabic via @fawzimesmar’s tweet.

Mar 15th 2015

I am, actually. Spotted at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Mar 3rd 2015

Threes is a game about matching numbers, not Arabic letters on the high score page.

Mar 3rd 2015

Album art.

Nope, certainly not Arabic.

Feb 5th 2015

Guess what language the last line of that sign is not. Via Salman Aljammaz

Feb 2nd 2015

The word ‘chocolate’ in a variety of languages, except of course Arabic, which is no where to be found. Via Salman Aljammaz

Feb 2nd 2015

It may be the best website of 2015, but that’s not Arabic. Appreciate aligning it to the right, though!

Jan 12th 2015

Sublime Text is my editor of choice, and a brilliant piece of software, unless you’re developing an Arabic programming language in it…

Dec 21st 2014

UPDATE This has been fixed! Thank you for caring! Twine is a great story telling platform, unless your story is in Arabic

Dec 21st 2014

DICE spent a lot of time making Battlefield 4 look super pretty and polished, except the Arabic

Nov 26th 2014

Mathematica is brilliant, except in Arabic!

Sep 23rd 2014

“Cairo” in Moebius: Empire Rising

May 14th 2014

Everything is so realistic! Except the Arabic!

May 9th 2014

I am so sorry, but that is not Arabic

Apr 17th 2014

Nope, not Arabic.

Apr 17th 2014