Re: Arabic numbers

From: John Hudson (
Date: Wed Mar 14 2007 - 18:32:17 CST

  • Next message: Murray Sargent: "RE: Arabic numbers"

    Behnam wrote:

    > What you call 'Arabic Numbers' (as opposed to Roman numeral) refers to
    > 10 digits numeral system which was invented in Arab civilization.

    Sorry, but the 10 digit numeral system was not invented in Arab civilisatiom, that is only
    the route by which it came to European knowledge. Hence, the Europeans call their numerals
    'Arabic', but the Arabs got the system from India, and traditionally call their numerals
    'Indic'. Confusing, eh? There seems to be some disagreement about when the system was
    developed in India, but it may be as early as 400 BC. The actual forms used to write these
    numerals in India and in Southeast Asia vary considerably depending on the regional
    script. As in Europe, the form of the numerals is everywhere tailored to the writing system.

    > 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

    The latter are actually Persian, and only 'Indic' insofar as they were adopted, along with
    the Persian nas'taliq script, in the Urdu culture of the Mughal rulers of India. [There
    are, by the way, some further, Urdu-specific glyph variants of the Persian numerals.]

    Humans have this rather annoying habit of naming a thing after the culture from which they
    obtained the thing, which produces these confusing chains of misleading names

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC
    Do not begin to paddle unless you intend always to paddle.
              - St Jean de Brébeuf, instructions for missionaries, 1637

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