[NTG-context] %18 or 18% : incorrect placement of the percentage sign ?

Idris Samawi Hamid ishamid at colostate.edu
Fri Feb 1 00:07:31 CET 2008

On Thu, 31 Jan 2008 15:35:35 -0700, Peter Münster <pmlists at free.fr> wrote:

> On Thu, Jan 31 2008, Steffen Wolfrum wrote:
>> Any native arabic speaker out there? Is it %18 or 18% ??
> Hello,
> I don't know nothing about Arabic script, but wouldn't it be logic to ask
> for "%81 or 18%" ?

Hmm, this could be a long discussion...

In ancient times, Arabic numerals (whence our own) were pronounced as  
follows (translation):

1234 => "4 and 30 and 2 hundred and a thousand"

Writing from right to left one would write 4 first, then 3, etc., giving  
the same output as writing from left to right. So the oft-repeated mantra  
that "numbering in Arabic is LR" is a half-truth. Today, Arabs, Persians  
etc. read numerals the same way westerners do; so the effect is that it is  
more convenient to enter numeral-strings as LR. But when the numbers were  
read in reverse (actually it is we that read numbers in reverse when you  
think about it, "Arabic numerals" after all) they were written RL and  
looked the same as our LR version.

So taking Peter's logic to its conclusion we should be writing 18 as 81,  
not the other way around ;-)

Best wishes

Professor Idris Samawi Hamid, Editor-in-Chief
International Journal of Shi`i Studies
Department of Philosophy
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523

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