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Re: controlling digits substitution in IE/FF (Arabic/Hindi/Decimal)

From: Jonathan Kew <jonathan@jfkew.plus.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 2009 12:09:46 +0100
Cc: David Woolley <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>, Jonathan Rosenne <rosennej@qsm.co.il>, www-international@w3.org, www-style@w3.org
Message-Id: <B9E0A4A9-801B-46AA-871F-4C3032F88B5E@jfkew.plus.com>
To: Najib Tounsi <ntounsi@emi.ac.ma>
On 2 Jun 2009, at 11:51, Najib Tounsi wrote:

> David Woolley wrote:
>> [snip]
>>
>> It would make sense for telephone numbers to be presented right to  
>> left in Arabic, even though numeric numbers have their most  
>> significant digit on the right.  I don't know the actual situation.
>>
>
> Arabic numbers are written as in western countries: they have their  
> most significant digit on the left, for example 2009.
>
> For groups of numbers, usually
> 08:15 is eight and a quarter
> 26/05/2009 is the 26th of May 2009
> 00 12 34 56 78 is a phone number to be typed  from left to right as  
> you might expect
> etc.
>
> There are also cases where it depends on the author. In Copyright  
> text, you may find   (2000-2008) as well as (2008-2000).

One exception that I've encountered, at least in South Asian locales  
where Arabic script is used, is when writing references to Scripture,  
such as the Bible:

     5-1:23 PSALM

(where "PSALM" of course represents the local word for Psalm, in  
Arabic script) would refer to Psalm 23, verses 1 through 5, and should  
be encoded in this logical order. So this is similar to the  
(2008-2000) version of a copyright statement, where the sequence of  
numbers should be read from right to left, although each individual  
number still has its most significant digit (stored first) on the left.

This is a case where the Unicode bidi algorithm does not give the  
desired result automatically, and users have to insert Right-to-Left  
Mark codes (U+200F) in order to achieve the proper display.  
(Alternatively, they often enter the text in a different order so as  
to get the display they want, at the cost of a confusing, out-of-order  
stored representation.)

I've also seen dates expressed in right-to-left form, e.g.

     H 1403/8/19

for the 19th day of the 8th month in the year 1403 A.H. (From the  
introduction to a Qur'an published in Saudi Arabia.) In this case, it  
is arguably unclear what the stored order should be: day first, or  
year first? (Though I think users would most naturally think of the  
day as being written first, then month, then year.)

JK
Received on Tuesday, 2 June 2009 11:11:16 GMT

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