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Re: Armenian numbering: findings, recommendations and request to CSS WG

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 18:13:26 +0100
Message-ID: <4995AA36.7060905@malform.no>
To: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
CC: www-style@w3.org, www-international@w3.org

Bert Bos 2009-02-12 20.39:
> On Thursday 12 February 2009 13:32, Leif Halvard Silli:
> 
>> *BUT* it could be, though, that traditional numeric Armenian
>> numeric system might not be the most pressuring thing for Armenian
>> internet users.  Wheras Armenican alphabetic list would be very
>> relevant. Are there any langauge that doesn't use its alphabet for
>> making simple alphabetically enumerated lists from time to time?
>> Phonebooks exist in any language, right? (PS: I know that even
>> alphabetical lists are a complicated matter.)
> 
> Clearly, Armenian *does* use the alphabet for numbering, just like 
> English, but after the tenth letter the algorithm differs a bit.

If they use another character "after the tenth letter", than the 
alphabetical 11th letter (Ի), then they *are not* using "the 
alphabet for numbering, just like English".

> It would be confusing to make lists where Ի means 11 instead of 20: 
> 
>     ...
>     Ղ) eighteenth item (not 90th)
>     Ճ) nineteenth item (not 100th)
>     Մ) twentieth item (not 200th)
> 
> instead of
> 
>     ...
>     ԺԸ) eighteenth item
>     ԺԹ) nineteenth item
>     Ի) twentieth item
> 
> I'm not Armenian, but I think the first looks strange.

Regarding confusing, strange etc: We can compare with Greek. The 
list-style-type "lower-greek" is the Greek  alphabet purely in 
alphabetic order, (nearly) without any look to how the traditional 
Greek numeric values eventualy could confuse anyone.

"11th" w/Greek numeric values:	ιαʹ
11th list-item w./lower-greek:	λ.
λ w/numerical sign ʹ means 30:	λʹ
Modern Greek using upper-case:	Λʹ

Comments:

Greek uses the numerical sign (ʹ) in order to distinguish numeric 
values from alphabetic values. Modern Greek added yet another 
distinguisher, namely, they prefer to use upper-case letters. [1]

While in Armenian one seems to use upper-case to distinguish 
Armenian numeric values from Armenian alphabetic values. [2] This 
seems logical, as such numericals are not only used in lists, I 
suspect, but also to say e.g. "King James X" and so on.

We can also speculate that it may not be an accident that 
"lower-greek" list style type has been implemented in CSS before 
"upper-greek", as the latter could, in modern Greek, be confused 
with the traditional Greek numeric values.

On should think that, for Armenian, in order to distinguish the 
traditional numerical values from the alphabetic values, one could 
use lowercase Armenian letters for the alphabetic value, since 
upper-case is used for the traditional value. But we must also 
consider that in lists, the previous and next number is very 
clear, and thus it is eeasy to see which system that is being used.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_numerals
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_numerals
-- 
leif halvard silli
Received on Friday, 13 February 2009 17:14:10 GMT

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