RE: Not all Arabics are created equal...

From: Roozbeh Pournader (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 06:34:41 EDT

On Tue, 11 Jul 2000, Gregg Reynolds wrote:

> d) The numbers compounded of the units and the tens are formed by
> prefixing the unit to the ten, and by uniting them by the conjunction 'va'
> [arabic wa] 'and'; as 'ahad va `ishroona', 'one and twenty'. The numerals
> made up of thousands, hundreds, tens, and units, usually follow the
> order--units, tens, &c.; e.g. 464 "arba` wa sitteena wa arba`ami'a", 'four
> and sixty and four hundred'.
> Just like Arabic. Did he just get it completely wrong? It's possible, but
> in general those ol' 19th century European Philologists were pretty good on
> the details. Today's practice may differ from that of previous eras.

Yes, he got it completely wrong. We have "bist va yek" for 21, which means
"twenty and one". Also the number 464 is "chahaar-sad and shast and
chahaar" which is "four-hundred and sixty and four". We read them (both in
mind and when spoken) from left to right.

> The above figures or numeric cyphers, now use by the Arabs and Persians, are
> read like ours, from left to right; thus, the year or our era 1861 is
> <ar>1861</ar>; so the corresponding year of the Hijra 1278 is
> <ar>1278</ar>... At first sight it [the decimal system] would appear to be
> at variance with the Arabian mode of reading (from right to left); but this
> is not really the case, as the Arabs do read the numbers from right to left.
> Thus, instead of saying, "In the year of the Hijra (<ar>1278</ar>) One
> thousand two hundred and seventy eight," the Arabs say, "In the year of the
> Hijra, Eight and seventy and two hundred and one thousand" or "Eight and
> seventy and two hundred after the thousand."

Again, Persian speakers say "hezaar va devist va haftaad va hasht" or
"tousand and two-hundred and seventy and eight". And that's always. I have
never heard any Persian speaker read them LSD first.

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