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

From: Najib Tounsi <ntounsi@emi.ac.ma>
Date: Mon, 05 May 2008 16:03:28 +0000
Message-ID: <481F2FD0.7080900@emi.ac.ma>
To: CE Whitehead <cewcathar@hotmail.com>
CC: www-international@w3.org

Hi Catherine,

CE Whitehead wrote:

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

"Sanduq Al Barid" means literally "The post box" and refers to  P.O. Box.

>  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

Yes

>
>  Similarly,
>
>  talifuun:  4830323
>
>  from the original:
>
>  4830323 : nuufilat
>
>  is translated as:
>
>  Telelphone:  4830323

Yes

>
>
>  (hope I put in my short vowels correctly)

telephone is transcripted تلفون  into Arabic and pronounced "tilifoon"

>
>  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).

ُTaking your example "4830323 : nuufilat",  some may write the number 
beginning by 3 2 3 0 3 8 4, and some may write it beginning by 4 8  3 0 
3 2 3. In this latter case, you have to worry about the space left for 
all your digits (between "4" and ":" ).
I think that most often, hand writing classical Arabic is RTL for numbers.

Regards,

Najib
 

>
>  --C. E. Whitehead cewcathar@hotmail.com
>  <mailto:cewcathar@hotmail.com>
>
>
> > From: ntounsi@emi.ac.ma <mailto: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 moves from right to left)
> >
> > Yes, for classical ََArabic 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 LTR 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
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >
> >
> >
>

-- 
Najib TOUNSI (mailto:tounsi @ w3.org)
Bureau W3C au Maroc (http://www.w3c.org.ma/)
Ecole Mohammadia d'Ingenieurs, BP 765 Agdal-RABAT Maroc (Morocco)
Phone : +212 (0) 37 68 71 50 (P1711)  Fax : +212 (0) 37 77 88 53
Mobile: +212 (0) 61 22 00 30
Received on Monday, 5 May 2008 16:04:09 GMT

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