Re: Kaktovik Inupiaq numerals

From: Ken Whistler <>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2012 13:50:15 -0700

On 4/27/2012 10:45 AM, Richard Wordingham wrote:
> If they are to be adopted by the CLDR, the digits need to be coded
> consecutively.

I doubt this matters in any case, because this proposed use is for
a vigesimal system, which has digits 0..19, not digits 0..9. Trying to
treat the first 10 digits as decimal digits in CLDR could accomplish
nothing, IMO.

Furthermore, what Inuit has is a vigesimal *counting* system, as the
article indicates. But this innovated set of numerals, is attempting to
turn this into a full-blown radix-20 numerical system, which I doubt
has any cultural validity.

The Inuit number system is another case of the rather widespread use of
mixed 5/20 counting systems, which count 4 "hands" of 5 into
groups of 20. Recognition of the "hands" as sub-bases is the reason
for the graphological construction of the numbers seen in the
Kaktovik Inupiaq students' system. And even if the hurdle of usage
is surmounted, so that a character encoding would be appropriate,
I don't think combining diacritics makes sense in this case. Rather,
this kind of construction is better handled by taking the graphic
elements for 5, 10, and 15, and ligating them in a font for the
combined units. So the only elements requiring encoding would
be 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, in order to fully represent this system.


> However, the symbols for '5', '10' and '15' do invite
> interpretation as combining diacritics. Decompositions would have to
> be encoded from the very beginning - they cannot be added in a later
> standard.
Received on Fri Apr 27 2012 - 15:51:44 CDT

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