RE: Arabic numbers

From: Magda Danish (Unicode) (
Date: Wed Mar 14 2007 - 18:04:00 CST

  • Next message: Philippe Verdy: "RE: Arabic numbers"

    When I was growing up in Egypt, many years ago, <٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩> were what we were taught in school to count and write dates, etc. We weren't introduced to <123..> until later when we started learning a second language such as English or French. This is still the case today in elementary schools and I am sure if you try to change ithat, you would certainly create a controversy.

    However, you are talking about games on the internet here which is a totally different story. Any person in the Egypt who has access to a computer and online games will for sure be familiar with both numeric systems. Moreover, I have noticed in the past 5-7 years a trend to use <123..> in Arabic publications such as magazines, newspapers, and in media in general. I have seen this trend in Egypt as well as in several other Middle Eastern countries, and as far as I know it hasn't been met with outrage. The cell phone industry which is huge in the Middle East also familiarizes most people with both systems.

    I don't believe that requiring kids to use <123..> is going to be a problem. But then again, it's just my humble opinion.


    -----Original Message-----
    From: [] On Behalf Of Behnam
    Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2007 4:00 PM
    To: James Tu
    Subject: Re: Arabic numbers

    I'm afraid I don't have all the answers but few clarifications.
    What you call 'Arabic Numbers' (as opposed to Roman numeral) refers to 10 digits numeral system which was invented in Arab civilization.
    Until modern time, it was never displayed as 123...
    In Arabic language it is displayed as you typed it and it is not indic. Indic numeral have different shape for some numbers as ٤ ٥ ٦ which are shaped as ۴ ۵ ۶ As far as I know, those who use these numbers call 1234..., numbers in English!
    But they are used in some regions (English numbers) The reaction to forcing kids to use English numbers may vary from tolerated to outrage!

    On 14-Mar-07, at 6:14 PM, James Tu wrote:

    > 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?
    > -James

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