Re: numeric properties of Nl characters in the UCD

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Sat Nov 29 2003 - 07:08:32 EST

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    Arcane Jill wrote:

    > PLEASE don't quote me out of context, Doug. You can't quote "This
    > being so" without also quoting what the "This" predicate was upon
    > which the conclusions were based. As it happens, it was subsequently
    > pointed out to me that the "This" predicate was, in fact, NOT so,
    > therefore it is perfectly obvious that the conclusion will no longer
    > follow from the predicate. What's more, the post from which you were
    > quoting was my ASKING for the Unicode definition of "decimal digit",
    > not ascribing one. The fact that I said "IF it is defined in such-and-
    > such a way in Unicode THEN xyz follows", does NOT imply that xyz
    > follows regardless of the "if" condition. I don't like being
    > misquoted, quoted out of context, or being accused of taking positions
    > which I do not take, and I really don't like it when someone actually
    > argues against a position which I do not take, as though I had said
    > something I hadn't. (That's usually considered a "straw man"
    > argument). I humbly request that in future, if people were to respond
    > to what I have actually said in full, instead of to part of it taken
    > completely out of context, then I'd feel a lot happier.
    > Of course I know what "decimal" means in everyday language. Do you
    > think I'm an idiot? Please stop treating me as one.

    At no point did I mean to imply this, nor did I make any personal attack
    on anyone. That should be obvious to either the casual reader or to
    anyone familiar with the way I've conducted business on this list for
    the past six years. I'd appreciate, just as I'm sure Jill would, having
    my intentions interpreted fairly and reasonably.

    I am probably guilty of misunderstanding Jill's post and jumping to a
    conclusion based on a single sentence. Here is the full context, from
    Jill's post dated 2003-11-26T23:57:

    >> Note especially the "number" fields for the hex digits: they are
    >> numeric, they are even digits, but they're not *decimal* digits.
    > ...which brings me back to my question (which no-one's answered yet).
    > What do the properties "digit" versus "decimal digit" actually MEAN?
    > Is it possible for someone to give a PRECISE definition. I mean, it
    > seems pretty clear that "decimal digit" does NOT mean "radix ten
    > digit" (otherwise circled digit 2 would be a "decimal digit", and it
    > isn't). I can only assume that the INTENDED meaning of what is
    > (erroneously?) called "decimal digit" is "a character which is
    > permitted to play a part in a positional number system" - thus "2" is
    > a decimal digit because it can form part of the legal number "123",
    > but circled digit 2 is not because "1②3" is not a legal number. Am I
    > even close?
    > This being so, it is possible that the (misnamed) property "decimal
    > digit" should also apply to Ewellic hex digits. They're not radix ten,
    > but that's not what "decimal digit" means anyway. They ARE capable of
    > being used in a positional number system.

    The most precise definition available is probably the one in Section 4.6
    of the Unicode Standard, titled "Numeric Value -- Normative" (TUS 4.0 p.
    100, original emphasis retained):

    > *Decimal digits* form a large subcategory of numbers consisting of
    > those digits that can be used to form decimal-radix numbers. They
    > include script-specific digits, not characters such as Roman
    > numerals (<1, 5> = 15 = fifteen, but <I, V> = IV = four), subscripts,
    > or superscripts. Numbers other than decimal digits can be used in
    > numerical expressions, but it is up to the users to determine the
    > specialized uses.

    -Doug Ewell
     Fullerton, California

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