Re: [Fwd: Re: Colouring combining Marks]

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

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    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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