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

From: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 00:39:52 +0100
Message-ID: <499361C8.9080309@w3.org>
To: www-style@w3.org, www-international@w3.org

fantasai wrote:
> Richard Ishida wrote:

>> Wrt " There are two letters for 10,000 and 20,000 (U+0555 and
>> U+0556 respectively), but whether and how they should be used
>> is unclear.", I think there are two options:
>> 1. leave it out, since we now only specify numbering up to 9,999.
>> 2. leave it in, as a note, but add information to say that numbers
>>    over 9,999 tend to be indicated using an (as yet undefined)
>>    combining character, but sometimes one of the two characters
>>    mentioned here are used for 10,000 and 20,000 respectively.
>>    I could do some wording if you like.
>> In the latter case, I think the text should be moved to the section
>> on lower-armenian, since that's where the algorithm is described.
>> I'm not aware that this applies only to upper-armenian.
> Third option: comment it out. I will comment it out. I'm still hoping
> you'll take over the numbering systems part of this module, so you
> can uncomment or whatever as you like when you do. :P

I asked Hrayr Khanjian, a linguist at MIT, and he says these letters Օ 
and Ֆ indeed have a position in the alphabet that suggests they might be 
used for 10,000 and 20,000, but in practice they almost never are. These 
letters were added to the alphabet only "recently" (about eight 
centuries ago, i.e., they are half as old as the other letters). The 
usual way to express 10,000 and 20,000 is Ա and Բ with a horizontal bar 

He also confirmed some other things:

Lowercase for numbers must be very rare. He has only ever seen uppercase.

7000 is a single Ւ, not the pair ՈՒ. The probable reason our draft has 
the latter is as Hrant Papazian already said: since the spelling reform 
of the 1920's in the then Sovjet Republic of Armenia, every Ւ in text is 
preceded by a Ո. But the numbering system dates from before the spelling 
reform and also the spelling reform wasn't applied by Armenian 
communities outside the Sovjet Union.

The convention for numbers above 9999 is to put a horizontal line (not a 
  circumflex) above the letter to express that the value is multiplied 
by 10,000.

Of course, traditions can change, and Hrayr Khanjian warned that he is 
an American living in Boston and may thus have missed recent usages in 
Armenia itself, but his evidence matches what others have said, so we're 
probably not very far from the truth anymore.

So, to come back to Richard's three recommendations, the above provides 
further evidence for:

   - The keyword 'armenian' should mean uppercase.
   - 7000 is just the single Ւ U+0552 ARMENIAN CAPITAL LETTER YIWN
   - we may not need numbers above 9999, but if we decide to include
     them, they should have a bar, not a circumflex on top.

and we probably don't need 'lower-armenian' and 'upper-armenian' at all, 
  just 'armenian'.

   Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C ) http://www.w3.org/
   http://www.w3.org/people/bos                               W3C/ERCIM
   bert@w3.org                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
   +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Wednesday, 11 February 2009 23:40:31 UTC

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