Re: Jumping Cursor. Was: Right-to-Left Punctuation Problem

From: Richard Wordingham (
Date: Tue Aug 02 2005 - 16:30:55 CDT

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    John Hudson wrote:

    > Gregg Reynolds wrote:
    >> Adding to the already existing - what, 5? 6? - different ways of encoding
    >> each digit. Let's count the ways:
    >> 0030-0039 DIGIT ZERO etc
    >> 0660-0069 ARABIC-INDIC
    >> 0966-096F DEVANAGARI
    >> 09E6-09EF BENGALI
    >> 0A66-0A6F GURMUKHI
    >> Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Thai, Lao, Tibetan,
    >> Myanmar, Ethiopic, Khmer, Mongolian, Limbu, Osmanya, various mathematical
    >> digit characters, Japanese full-width, etc. etc. Twenty one and
    >> counting.
    > Most of which look different, some of which function differently (i.e. use
    > different counting systems that do not correspond to our decimal digit
    > system). I don't think there is any expectation that one would be able to
    > perform cross-script arithmetic using Mongolian and Ethiopic numeral
    > characters.

    Perhaps not with Ethiopic digits, but why not with others? They're mostly
    just presentation forms of the same Platonic numbers (demonstrably cognate,
    not merely semantically equivalent), whose justification is round trip
    compatibility, the emotional importance of the mark-up, or zealous
    application of the script-separation rule. (The Lanna script should have
    two sets of decimal digits if the script ever gets encoded - or added to Tai
    Lue if the lumpers take over - 'sacred' and 'profane' sets.) I'm running a
    version of Excel that can add numbers in Thai digits and Arabic digits (i.e.
    0, 1, 2,... rather than the Roman numerals) together. If I find myself
    doing arithmetic on paper on a bumpy journey, I switch to 'Arabic-Hindu'
    digits as they seem more resistant to jolts.

    > But this is the kicker, as already mentioned yesterday: *all* those
    > numerals characters you listed share the same directionality, and all
    > numbers in Unicode are encoded most-significant digit first. Maybe if
    > computing had been invented in the Middle East it would be the other way
    > around, with the least significant digit encoded first, and the various
    > standards would oblige all LTR writing systems to function bidirectionally
    > with regard to numerals.

    Which raises the old question of Arabic writing order! I presume the
    principal of historical primacy would also argue for LTR. Of course, this
    is all tied up with endianity, which Swift tells us caused a great deal of
    trouble when applied to eggs!


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