RE: correction (was: Not all Arabics are created equal...)

From: Gregg Reynolds (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 21:35:45 EDT

Again: the writing protocol (or algorithm) does not matter. Look at the
many ways I can write the number four thousand two hundred fifty seven:

The conventional way:


"Evens first, forwards":
         2 7
        42 7

"Odds first, backwards":
        4 5

"Evens first, forwards, then odds, backwards":
         2 7

etc. etc. etc. We can run through the same exercise in any language. The
outcome is always the same. What counts (no pun intended) is the
mathematical rule of evaluation, which says that the LSD position is ones,
the next over is tens, then hundreds, etc. In English and most European
languages, the MSD, as defined by the mathematical rule of evaluation, comes
first in reading order, and "first in reading order" in English means to the
left of the other figures. In Arabic, and Persian, and Urdu, etc., "first
in reading order" means to the right of the remaining figures, and that
means the LSD. "Reading order" means typographically, on the page, and not
verbally; don't forget that the figures on the page denote numbers, not
words, so pronouncing the words that represent the same number should not be
construed as a reading of the figures, but of their meaning. So although
Persian written forms are LSD first, the spoken translation is MSD first.

The key point is that a mathematical modeling of written language (which is
what Unicode amounts to) should model the semantics of written forms, and
not the protocols/algorithms of putting ink on paper or emitting sounds into
the air.

I suspect the audience has become thoroughly bored by now, so if you'd like
to continue the conversation maybe we should do so privately.



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Roozbeh Pournader []
> Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2000 7:58 AM
> To: Unicode List
> Cc: Unicode List
> Subject: Re: correction (was: Not all Arabics are created equal...)
> On Wed, 12 Jul 2000, Gregg Reynolds wrote:
> > But in any case, this doesn't change the main point: Persian may be
> > spoken MSD-first, but its written forms are LSD-first.
> No. Except when adding etc. (just like in English), Persian
> numbers are
> written MSD-first. When I (and any other Persian speaker I
> know) try to
> write something like "I have 12 books", which is "man 12
> ketaab daaram" in
> Persian, I write it in this fashion:
> M
> AM
> 1 NAM
> 12 NAM
> K 12 NAM
> EK 12 NAM
> ...
> This means that Persian is also written MSD-first.
> --roozbeh

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