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# Has there ever been a numeral system where the numerals tend to increase in value as you go from left to right?

Question #56925. Asked by gmackematix. (Apr 27 05 12:30 AM)

satguru

I know Arpy will know for certain, but my limited knowledge of Hebrew tells me each letter doubles up as a number (as used in Kabala) and as they write that way round, if the numbers also go with the alphabet, then it'll correspond nicely.

 Apr 27 05, 8:58 AM
Arpeggionist

The mnemnic system (known in Aramaic as "gematria") goes from right to left. Because the Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters (and 27 different-looking characters altogether), it fits well into three sets of nine. The first nine letters (Aleph to Tet) are 1-9, the next set (Yod to Tzadi) are 10-90, and the last four letters are hundreds. So this Jewish year being Taf Shin Samech He, that's 400+300+60+5 (with the 5,000 implied) - 5,765.

But when you asked about left to right, I figured you meant left to right, as in the Arabic numeral system.

 Apr 27 05, 2:08 PM
Arpeggionist

I forgot to say that Hebrew math (gematria) is written from right to left, as is the rest of the Hebrew language.

Famous numbers include 26 (the mnemonic value being the four-letter name of God), Taria'g (613, the number of commantments in the Torah), and Kaf Tet (November the 29th, 1947, the day when the UN voted in favor of dividing Israel into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, which also happens to be my birthday).

 Apr 27 05, 2:13 PM
gmackematix

So reading from right to left, Hebrew numerals start with the largest most important quantity first, as do our numerals.
The Arabs, who read right to left, and presumably use Arabic numerals, therefore come across the smaller values first as they read them.

 Apr 27 05, 6:33 PM
Arpeggionist

In Hebrew, the largest values do not always come first, but sometimes superstition or tradition has us spelling out a number as a word, such as "chai" (Chet Yud - 8+10 = 18). Usually, however, when just giving a number, you start with the highest value and continue down (from right to left).

 Apr 28 05, 2:38 AM
Arpeggionist

Also, I must mention, in modern Hebrew one still writes out Arabic numerals (which the Arabs don't actually use), and thus encounter the smaller values first technically. But we Hebrew speakers think of things differently. When we encounter a number, it is the whole number that we read from left to right - going against the written language. (The direction of writing is more of a problem with music, where syllables are written in order from left to right and each individual syllable is written from right to left. That is really confusing.)

 Apr 28 05, 2:42 AM

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