Arabic numerals?? Maybe it’s time to move on?

Ok ok, I know why they are called “Arabic numerals”. Yet a 1000 years have past since that use🤷🏼‍♂️.

This are what the Arab people use today-

1 = ١ 2 = ٢ 3= ٣ 4=٤ 5=٥ 6= ٦ 7=٧ 8=٨ 9= ٩ 10= ١٠

1,2,3 and so on is what is used in the western world/societies , and Latin/South America.

So why ALL the the channels and reviewers insist to use a term from a 1000 years into history? Is there another term in their reviews from ancient times?? More than 800 years since the Europeans adopted the numerical system from the Arab world (which in turn adopted it from India).

Numbers evolved! Like languages!

Sorry, I’m too emotional about it…

I’m an historian with a major OCD. I can’t bare it. It is so inaccurate…

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As a lover of languages you’ll know that specialist fields often adopt words and imbue them with a meaning that diverges from their original etymology. Watch making is just one such field, with its own set of jargon words. As a particularly grievous example (to me, anyway), the watch world has adopted the word ‘homage’ and its use now bears little resemblance to its original meaning.

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I would imagine we should use the name the inventors of the numerals gave them. If the original name was “Arabic”, then I think we stick with that.

Why should the name change just because Europeans now use them? And how long does a group have to use numerals before they get to rename them? For that matter, how many people does a group need to contain before they can lay claim to a system of numbers? And who is empowered to make such a change?

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Isn’t it possible that continuing to call them Arabic numerals after all this time in fact honors their history, and that deciding to rename them would be seen as erasing that history?

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Goes well beyond watches I am afraid. The term was taught in grammar school when I was a kid. They are also called Western Arabic numerals but that seems imprecise after reading your post.

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English_archer

As a lover of languages you’ll know that specialist fields often adopt words and imbue them with a meaning that diverges from their original etymology. Watch making is just one such field, with its own set of jargon words. As a particularly grievous example (to me, anyway), the watch world has adopted the word ‘homage’ and its use now bears little resemblance to its original meaning.

That's true. A better word than homage would be pastiche because it also allude to imitation, something which homage doesn't.

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It's just the name we came to associate with decimal notation, just like we still call the alphabet used for Western European languages the Latin Alphabet, despite the fact that its missing several characters and had no accented letters or punctuation.

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In my opinion, the only objective criterion that can be used to assess the "goodness" of naming is whether something is well defined and unambiguous. Aside from that it is completely arbitrary as there are no natural/physical laws that the conventions need to abide by. West Arabic and Arabic Indic does the job for me. Beyond that, I could not care less.

I would even argue that changing something that is widely used and unambiguous just because a small subset of people feel that it's inaccurate is bad practice. You need to get over that, OCD is a disease 😉

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It is rare that the dominant culture honors another and gives it credit for a useful invention. The notation that was borrowed from Spain and North Africa is so honored.

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This topic is the reason WC is an awesome community.

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Would you prefer just shaped indices, like a baton? Honest question, that would probably be an inoffensive option?

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I live and work with Arab people. I was brought up with Arab people.

For me, and for them- Arabic numbers are represented/written in the Arab language- for them, the “Arabic numerals” are what the westerners use for numbers.

This is my own personal point of view, based off my experience and education throughout my life. It may seem unreasonable for most people, yet where I live- it is a fairly legitimate question to ask.

I would and am appreciate any feedback and other opinions- yet please refrain from personal comments.

Thanks guys 😊

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TickyBurden

Isn’t it possible that continuing to call them Arabic numerals after all this time in fact honors their history, and that deciding to rename them would be seen as erasing that history?

Mmmm….. No.

I think not. I may be wrong, off course.

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thekris

I would imagine we should use the name the inventors of the numerals gave them. If the original name was “Arabic”, then I think we stick with that.

Why should the name change just because Europeans now use them? And how long does a group have to use numerals before they get to rename them? For that matter, how many people does a group need to contain before they can lay claim to a system of numbers? And who is empowered to make such a change?

What the Europeans use is not what the Arabs use as numbers. It’s a completely different graphic representation, today.

It evolved, since the 13th century..you know…

That’s why it is so inaccurate, I believe.

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Personally I prefer “western Arabic” and “Eastern Arabic” to keep things simple, because the alternatives are like a gazillion different clunky combinations

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English_archer

As a lover of languages you’ll know that specialist fields often adopt words and imbue them with a meaning that diverges from their original etymology. Watch making is just one such field, with its own set of jargon words. As a particularly grievous example (to me, anyway), the watch world has adopted the word ‘homage’ and its use now bears little resemblance to its original meaning.

The “homage” thing is dumb. It’s something that honestly is just so easy to stop doing by just calling a spade a spade. I can maybe understand this for people in countries that have rough libel laws, but that’s about it. It feels like a lawyer came up with the term

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CdeFmrlyCasual

The “homage” thing is dumb. It’s something that honestly is just so easy to stop doing by just calling a spade a spade. I can maybe understand this for people in countries that have rough libel laws, but that’s about it. It feels like a lawyer came up with the term

Normal people buy cheap knock-offs; enthusiasts purchase an homage

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Zotrax1946

What the Europeans use is not what the Arabs use as numbers. It’s a completely different graphic representation, today.

It evolved, since the 13th century..you know…

That’s why it is so inaccurate, I believe.

The questions of how much change is needed for something to need a new name and who decides that still remain.

I get your point, but I don’t see how any changes we make won’t be as or more arbitrary than what we have.

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thekris

I would imagine we should use the name the inventors of the numerals gave them. If the original name was “Arabic”, then I think we stick with that.

Why should the name change just because Europeans now use them? And how long does a group have to use numerals before they get to rename them? For that matter, how many people does a group need to contain before they can lay claim to a system of numbers? And who is empowered to make such a change?

I doubt the inventors of the numbers themselves named them Arabic, so it's really more about origin.

This calls to mind a Neil deGrasse Tyson explanation of why he still uses BC and AD in his date nomenclature, rather than the modern BCE and CE. He wants to give credit to the Gregorian inventors of the calendar.

Just a quick look makes me think "West Arabic" is the right name for the numbers.