number polarity

From: Reynolds, Gregg (
Date: Wed Nov 03 1999 - 10:00:15 EST

I've put the passage from Wright regarding the "polarity" of numbers at

See paragraph 327.

Caveat: I've used my own system of transliteration - see xlit.txt in the
same directory. Eventually I'll translate it into a standard encoding.

Wright is the standard reference grammar, still easily available:

or you can probably get it at the Oxford Press website.

Last week I sought info on other languages with similar number polarity, and
it turns out I had an example right under my nose all along. Apparently
classical Sinhalese does the same thing in a left-to-right context. See

But notice that the (English) author makes the same culturally-based
assumption we all tend to make, which is that the "correct" polarity is most
significant digit first, so he interprets the numbers as "right-to-left".
He may be right; I don't speak or read Sinhalese, so I don't know how such
numbers would have been read aloud. But I'll bet it was LSD first, so
left-to-right is the proper interpretation. I sent a query to a friend who
is from Sri Lanka but haven't heard back yet; can anybody here shed some

Gregg Reynolds

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