From: Peter Kirk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Jun 22 2005 - 06:14:21 CDT
On 22/06/2005 07:55, Michael Everson wrote:
> At 01:29 -0500 2005-06-22, Gregg Reynolds wrote:
>> Right, but that's my point - this notion of "natural" ordering is
>> unnatural for Arabic. It is quite "natural" to type (and speak)
>> numbers in either order- least or most significant digit first.
> In Arabic counting, I believe I have heard, the least significant
> digit is given first.
And in German and older English counting, at least from 13 to 99. And in
modern English counting from 13 to 19. My point is that the order in
which the digits are spoken, or written out in full, is independent of
the order in which they are "naturally" written and also of the order in
which they are distributed on paper etc.
>> In fact you could argue that historically least significant digit
>> first is more "natural". My question is, is this also true for Hebrew?
> It doesn't matter, does it?
I rather agree that it doesn't matter, but the answer to the question is
mostly No. In the oldest written Hebrew sources that we have, the Hebrew
Bible, numerals are written out in full. The ordering rule in the
earlier books is that thousands precede (i.e. are written to the right
of) hundreds, hundreds mostly precede smaller numbers, and tens mostly
precede units, i.e. consistently most significant part first; but in
later biblical books units often precede tens and hundreds sometimes
follow smaller numbers. A system of writing numerals with letters was
introduced after the Hebrew Bible was completed and is still sometimes
used; in this system the more significant part precedes (to the right)
the less significant. Reference: GKC §5k,134i. The order only changed in
modern times when western numerals were incorporated into Hebrew text
without being reversed.
I understand that ancient Egyptian numerals were also written with the
more significant part first, in the direction of writing. This is also
true of Greek and Roman numerals. So, unless Dean can give us
counter-examples from cuneiform, I would say that historically numerals
were almost always written more significant part first.
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