Re: Malayalam Zero - an error?

From: N. Ganesan (
Date: Wed Apr 06 2005 - 20:06:49 CST

  • Next message: Josef W. Segur: "Re: Malayalam Zero - an error?"

    Ken Whistler's reply to Phillip
    on Malayalam zero made me look
    into some books.

    Georges Ifrah, The universal history
    of Numbers from prehistory to the
    invention of the computer,
    John Wiley, 2000. This book is a classic.
    Pages 356-510 deal with Indian numbers.

    Page 373 is on Malayalam numbers,
    [Begin Quote]
    Malayalam figures

    These figures are used by the Dravidian
    people of Kerala state, on the ancient
    coast of Malabar, in the southwest of
    India. They have the same name as the
    form of writing used in the area.

    Like the Tamils, the people of Kerala
    did not use zero in their notation
    system for many centuries: Malayalam
    figures are not based on the place-value
    system, and there are specific figures
    for 10, 100 and 1,000. It was only since
    the middle of the nineteenth century, under
    the influence of Europe, that zero was
    introduced and combined with the symbols
    for the nine units according to the
    positional principle.

    Thus the Tamil and Malayalam figures were
    the only ones in India that did not include
    zero and were not based on the positional
    principle relatively recently.
    [End Quote]

    So, the question that the Malayalam digit
    Zero glyph is in error remains. I quite
    doubt in about 150 years or less, the
    zero's glyph has innovated to such a degree.

    Usage samples of 1 and 1/2 can be
    looked into. Also, is not zero (0)
    used in Malayalam? Is it the major use?

    N. Ganesan

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Apr 06 2005 - 20:08:50 CST