# Re: [Fwd: Re: Colouring combining Marks]

From: Gregg Reynolds (unicode@arabink.com)
Date: Wed Jun 22 2005 - 14:09:09 CDT

• Next message: Mete Kural: "Re: [Fwd: Re: Colouring combining Marks]"

Peter Kirk wrote:

> 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.

Thanks. So I take it that in modern Hebrew something like 1923 would be
spoken one thousand nine hundred twenty three? (BTW, note that "1913"
nineteen thirteen in English combines a pair of LSD phrases!) Also what
is "GKC"?

>
> 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.

Hmm. It's an interesting thesis. For Arabic I think (but I'm not
certain) that traditional notation would put the larger number to the
right of the smaller. E.g. qaf = 80, dal = 4, so to write the
equivalent of 84 one would have placed the qaf to the right of the dal.

But of course you can't really compare traditional language-based
schemes with base 10 positional notation.

-gregg

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