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Arabic numbers - as vague as their letters?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:51 pm
by Fernando
Following a discussion on gas-filled missiles in Syria, I read that their number markings used the familiar Western forms, not the forms commonly used in Arabic. The claim was that the strictly Arabic versions were too vague and could be easily confused, with drastic consequences.
Looking it up on Google, I found this illustration of various Arabic forms - the one at the top is described as "Modern Arabic, Western", the fourth down as "Modern Arabic, Eastern". You'll need to follow the link to see the caption (which itself isn't terribly clear).
Image
My question is, are those hard-to-distinguish squiggles commonly used instead of the ones at the top, or are they just occasionally used?
http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/ihame/Ref6.htm

Re: Arabic numbers - as vague as their letters?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:26 pm
by manfred
The only ones commonly used in Arab countries are the digits in the fourth row in your picture. Kids do their sum with them in school, and you can find them on price labels and various signs, including car registration plates.

The odd thing is, they write normal text from right to left, but numbers are written from left to right, just like we do. This gives away that the digit symbols and notation are not "Arabic" at all, but originally come from India.

Obviously All Arabs also know the "Western" digit symbols, but they generally only use them in places where you find a lot of foreigners. Even Roman numerals are famaliar and sometimes used.

Outside Cairo main railway station there is a clock with Roman numerals, build at a time when Egypt still aspired to be like a European country.

Image

However, the clocks on the platforms, which were similar in design originally, have all been replaced with these, as a sort of "Arab pride" thing:

Image

Re: Arabic numbers - as vague as their letters?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:07 pm
by Fernando
Thanks Manfred - it's amazing how different they are from what are usually called "Arabic". I can see why the people I mentioned thought them risky - the 3 and 4 are almost indistinguishable. They were also concerned that using a dot for zero had a risk of it being confused with a bit of dirt on a rough missile casing.

Re: Arabic numbers - as vague as their letters?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:27 pm
by Ibn Rushd
I was talking with my bf about this before. He said the average Joe in Egypt uses the Western numbers, same as we use. The Eastern numbers that were used in some medieval manuscripts and in modern Qur'ans are not used as much because it's viewed as being backward.