RE: Arabic numbers

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Mar 14 2007 - 18:01:59 CST

  • Next message: Magda Danish (Unicode): "RE: Arabic numbers"

    There's no general answer to the question, because the Arabic-reading population is very diversified.

    Anyway, most areas do use the our common Arabo-European digits (0...9) without problems, even if there are areas where Indo-Arabic digits are used, or sometimes other digits as well (notably in India).

    The reply is also highly dependant of context. If you are addressing kids about games or general education, most of them will be interested in learning to compute with Arabo-European digits. If you are addressing the Arabic cultural background, an article with the traditional digits will be useful; but even for religion-related topics, both digits can be used as well (for example when quoting Coranic verset numbers).

    It seems however that Arabo-Indic numbers (٠...٩) are preferred in some Iranian cultures, or in some Afghani or Pakistani cultures. But for the most crowded countries using the Arabic language, notably in Africa, but also in more traditional areas like Yemen, or even in Western continental China, or even in Indonesia, the Arabo-European digits are used almost all the time (and Arabo-Indic digits are not well recognized).

    So it's not much the question of the language, Arabic here, but more the question of the location of your readers. Note that in some areas, other digits may be used as well (notably in Northern India, Bangladesh and South-East Asia). If you don't know exactly where your readers are and you are not discussing about the traditional numeric systems, so use the digits that are the most widely recognized: Arabo-European digits.

    The only case where I have seen Indo-Arabic digits favored almost all the time is not on Arabic-language written sites, but on sites written in Farsi or Urdu. Pashto sources are quite rare, except from writers living abroad that use Arabo-European digits, possibly due to contamination with their place of education or residence.

    > -----Message d'origine-----
    > De : [] De la
    > part de James Tu
    > Envoyé : mercredi 14 mars 2007 23:15
    > À :
    > Objet : Arabic numbers
    > I apologize if this is slightly off topic...
    > We are working on a kid's website that targets 5 languages and one of
    > them is Arabic. We were wondering whether we should be using
    > 0123456789 (arabic numbers) vs ٠١٢٣٤٣٥٦٧٨٩ (indian numbers,
    > I found out that the real Arabic numbers are called indian
    > numbers. :) ) This will mostly be used when a user is entering and
    > ID number to log into the site.
    > On an Arabic keyboard, there is the 'normal' row of arabic numbers
    > 0123456789. But on the same keys they have the corresponding indian
    > numbers, used for Arabic.
    > Can anyone help me understand the usage pattern for Arabic speakers
    > with these hybrid keyboards. (supposedly, some people doing research
    > found that kids learn Indian numbers and then start using Arabic
    > 0123456789 numbers later)
    > - When an Arabic speaker uses their computer and when she types
    > numbers, does the operating system default to 0123456789, or does it
    > default to Arabic numbers?
    > How 'bad' would it be if we required that kids use 0123456789?

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