Ethiopic numbers (was RE: Unicode Public Review Issues update)

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Fri Nov 28 2003 - 13:38:46 EST

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    > 26 Update properties for Ethiopic and Tamil non-decimal digits
    > 2003.01.27 Decimal numbers are those using in decimal-radix number
    > systems. In particular, the sequence of the ONE character followed by
    > TWO character is interpreted as having the value of twelve. We have
    > feedback that this is the not the case for Ethiopic or Tamil. Details
    > on the public issues page.
    Comments I've submitted:

    PRI#26: It is my understanding that Ethiopic numerals do not use a
    decimal radix.

    Most sources describing Ethiopic script will list the characters
    representing tens, 100 and 10000. The existence of these characters,
    which are not combinations made from sequences of digits for 0 - 9,
    already indicates that this is not a decimal-radix system.

    Traditionally, each syllabic character has a numeric value associated.
    This is described on page 8 of, which shows Arabic
    decimal values, and,
    which shows traditional Ethiopic numerals. By comparison of these two
    documents, one can get an idea of how the numbers work.

    The following are some other useful discussions of Ethiopic numbering:

    The last of these proposes the addition of a digit 0 in order to allow
    decimal-radix numbers in Ethiopic. I have no idea whether this has
    caught on at all or not, but it is not the traditional system.

    Peter Constable
    Globalization Infrastructure and Font Technologies
    Microsoft Windows Division

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