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RE: Digression: little/big endian numbers LTR/RTL

From: CE Whitehead <cewcathar@hotmail.com>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 11:27:30 -0400
Message-ID: <BLU109-W43F6FDCBB46B302DCED226B3D70@phx.gbl>
To: <www-international@w3.org>, Najib Tounsi <ntounsi@emi.ac.ma>

I have a letter on Kuwait University stationary; phone numbers and P.O. boxes are LTR while writing is RTL; there's an English translation for comparison:
[s]= a pharyngealized s.  ([s]anduuq means 'box' or something and bariid has something to do with the mail [the post].)
[s]anduuq bariid 5969
is how you'd read outloud the original:
5969 diirab quudna[s]
which is translated into English as:
P.O. Box 5969
talifuun:  4830323
from the original:
4830323 : nuufilat
is translated as:
Telelphone:  4830323
(hope I put in my short vowels correctly)
Hope this does not confuse the issue; I never even realized that classical Arabic numbers such as the telephone number could be written RTL as Naajib says they are, because I learned in Arabic to write my numbers LTR (what little Arabic I learned).
--C. E. Whitehead
> From: ntounsi@emi.ac.ma> > Jeremy Carroll wrote:> >> > OLD SUBJECT: Re: BiDi IRI deployment?> >> > Simon Montagu wrote:> > >> > > Frank Ellermann wrote:> > >> [Digression... I'm not completely convinced that numbers are> > >> really written LTR in RTL languages, or if they just have a> > >> "little endian" concept where RTL languages use "big endian"]> > >> > > This question comes up every so often. I can assure you that native> > > speakers of RTL languages write numbers LTR, whether by pen or by> > > keyboard.> > >> >> > This is not what my (north african arabic) native speaker informant> > tells me.> >> > He tells me: - classical arabic numbers are RTL> > Yes, classical spoken arabic is RTL. 1234 is "four and thirty and two > hundred and> one thousand".> > > (compare Olde English "four and twenty blackbirds"> > But 123 is read "one hundred and three and twenty", in native language > speaking (mine is Moroccan).> > > - when writing in classical arabic mode numbers are written RTL (i.e.> > the hand movesfrom right to left)> > Yes, for classical ˇˇArabic hand writers.> > Though some people might write/read numbers from left to right. It is a > question of habit. It also depends on the writing tool. Using a > bidi-enabled tool, if you type "ABC 123", you get "123 CBA".> Otherwise, you should type "ABC 321" to get the same thing.> > > - dialects are polluted by the colonial languages (e.g. north african> > arabic by french).> > I suspect that's why we write 1234 in LTR, and read it "one thousand two > hundreds four and thirty". The two last digits, units and tens, are read > in RTL.> > Regards,> > Najib> > > - this pollution results in numbers being said and/or written LTR> > (i.e. the hand jumps leftwards, moves back to the right when writing> > the number, and then jumps leftward again).> >> > PO:> >> > It seems to me that arabic numbers were always RTL with least> > significant digit first; when imported into western Europe these> > gradually became LTR with most significant digit first (because of> > the TR writing system). This resulted in changes such that the> > phrase "four and twenty" is now archaic, because of the least> > significant digit first construction. With European colonialism the> > most significant digit first meme was re-exported from western Europe> > back into arabic speaking communities, resulting in the apparent LTR> > numbers within a RTL writing system.> >> > Jeremy> >> >> >> >> >> > > 
Received on Monday, 5 May 2008 15:28:09 UTC

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