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

From: CE Whitehead <cewcathar@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2008 08:52:32 -0400
Message-ID: <BLU109-W19AE2A6C176FC78C9C0A09B3D60@phx.gbl>
To: <www-international@w3.org>
CC: <cowan@ccil.org>


Of course I did not see anyone write/create the Kuwait University stationary . . . 
(but I rarely see people write alphabet letters either; and how do you know that I  do not write all mine in reverse too??--for example, write, cibarA going from the right side of my paper, instead of Arabic going from the left; 
in fact, because I was left-handed & my mother was teaching my sister to move the hand she wrote with [her right one] across the paper to start writing--as part of the 'kindergarden readiness' training that my mother was trying to push my sister through at the time [that training did not go over too well with my sister]--I did wierd things like that for several years when I first learned to write; I initially wrote all my English from right-to-left but you at least also could read it from right-to-left [my parents said they would need a mirror]; then I tried briefly to write it from righ- to-left but so that you could read it from left-to-right; then I got straightened out, but more problems ensued because some teachers wanted to convert me to writing with my right hand; also I broke the left arm twice ); 
but the point is-- you see the number,
in Arabic
and in English you see, 

You hear Arabic speakers pronounce the numbers in this order: 
(numbers are about all the Arabic I can make sense of when I hear it--maybe a few greetings; & a few Palestinian expressions since my teacher was Palestinian; I can read a bit more--but still would not say I really know the language).

Thus, the order in which the numbers are pronounced appears as LTR on Kuwait University letterhead.

I confess I have no native speaker intuitions; and I am sure that Najib must know what he is talking about* & I am not trying to conflict that, only to show an instance of the LTR numbers people were talking about from a different country.

It seems then that if in classical Arabic numbers are written as RTL, maybe the Arabic on Kuwait University letterhead is not in classical Arabic--since the phone numbers read best as LTR.

--C. E. Whitehead

(*I myself used to get quite confusing--I think; maybe I still do not understand left & right--responses when I asked an Arabic speaker about the order numbers are written in/read in in Arabic.  However, Najib's comments finally made sense of this confusion. 
I was told I think by two different speakers of Arabic that the order numbers were read in was LTR except for when change was counted to you or something . . . ??  Which left me a bit confused--but in any case Arabic speakers tend to pronounce phone numbers in the order we do; the order these are pronounced in appears as LTR on the Kuwait University letterhead).

> CE Whitehead scripsit:
>> You can tell for phone numbers and P.O. Boxes; that's why I chose that example.
> No, I'm afraid you misunderstand.
> If you write 1 and then move to the right and write 2 and then move to
> the right and write 3, you get:
> 123
> But if you write 3 and then move to the left and write 2 and then move
> to the left and write 1, you get:
> 123
> There is no way for me to tell, unless I watch you do it, how you wrote
> the digits.
> --
> An observable characteristic is not necessarily John Cowan
> a functional requirement. --John Hudson cowan@ccil.org
Received on Tuesday, 6 May 2008 12:53:17 UTC

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