g]z
(Ethiopic)
Ethiopic Numeral Names
By Dr. Aberra Molla
በዶ/ር ኣበራ ሞላ
0 (0) Albo
ኣልቦ
1 (1) Ahadu
ኣሓዱ
2 (2) Klietu
ክልዔቱ
3 (3) Selstu
ሠልስቱ
4 (4) Arbaetu
ኣርባዕቱ
5 (5) Hamstu
ኃምስቱ
6 (6) Slestu
ሥለስቱ
7 (7) Sebatu
ሠባቱ
8 (8) Sementu
ሠመንቱ
9 (9) Tesiatu
ተሥዓቱ
Old Ethiopic Digits
1 (10) Asertu
ዓሠርቱ
2 (20)
Esra ዕሥራ
3 (30) Selasa
ሠላሳ
4 (40)
Arbea ኣርብዓ
5 (50)
Hamsa ሃምሳ
6 (60) Sisa ስሳ
7
(70) Sebea ሰብዓ
8 (80) Semanya
ሠማንያ
9 (90) Tesea
ተስዓ
0 (100)
Miet ምዕት
1 (10,000)
Elf እልፍ
Ethiopic Numeral Names
Ethiopic
is one of the ancient alphabets that did not have the zero (0)
number. I have modified the shape of the Arabic (Latin) zero
to a novel Ethiopic zero and added the new
character to our
standard Ethiopic sets since 1987. Like all the Geez numbers,
the digit has two horizontal strokes. Digitizing the Geez was
not a problem considering the limited pixels that were
available for displaying the Ethiopic alphanumeric characters
on the computer screen adapters. (It was the figure eight that
was difficult to fit as the number of pixels was reduced.)
The Ethiopic
zero numerals were mapped to the zero positions or ASCII 048 in
ModEth and EthioWord and were added for their mathematical uses and to
make the sets complete. Their positions in the GeezEdit fonts have
continued to be arbitrary, mainly because priority was given to the
Arabic numerals and due to lack of interest in using the Ethiopic zeros.
The Ethiopic character sets include the Arabic numerals that I have
always also left in their ASCII positions in all our software. In the
EthioWord and GeezEdit programs, these numbers are typed with one
keystroke per digit.
The gif
above is that of Geez digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 0. The gif below is that of Geez numerals 10,
20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100.
Ten thousand
has it own number and a hundred million is represented by two of them (11).
Ethiopia
has the word, zm, but not the
symbol for infinity. However, I was reluctant to modify the
infinity since Geez could use the Latin symbol, though the
option is available for it and others.
The
Ethiopic numeral names above are the
actual Geez names of the numbers in the ancient Geez
language. Albo is my addition of an Amharic
word. Unlike the Egyptian and Greek independent numerals for 200, 300, etc., Ethiopic has
only the 10^{4} solitary character for numbers above one
hundred, while the older Abegede
is a numeric alphabet.
It is possible that the absence of zero necessitated the
creation of different sets of
numbers
above nine in ancient character sets. The difficulty of
accepting zero, a number that did not represent something to
count, by past civilizations is understandable. The
absence of zero might have also made it difficult to
comprehend
negative numbers. A millennium has passed since Indians
created the zero decimal system. For four centuries many have recognized and accepted zero. It also seems that Ethiopians have
adopted the Latin numerals while hanging onto the old numbers. The
longevity of the Geez numerals may also have been because their major
problem is still the absence of zero, if we compare them with others
like the Roman numerals, acrophonic Greek and Babylonian cuneiforms. The
Amharic typewriter has only the Arabic numerals and the exclusion of the
Ethiopic numbers may have been because of the lack of Geez zero and the
subsequent mechanical difficulties to include twenty zeroless digits. I
recently came across a reference where Aleqa Kidane Wold Kifle proposed
the use of Ethiopic number ten as zero, though he had the Arabic and the
twenty Ethiopic numbers in the proposed keyboard. Character
spaces and mechanical problems are no more excuses for missing Geez zero
in the computer age. Neither is zero the only novelty I added to
the sets. There
is nothing wrong with the Ethiopic digits one to nine though some could
use improvement. (For instance, the lower bars could be removed to
reduce strokes in handwriting.) But, Ethiopic zero (0)
should be utilized to avoid
confusion and to correct ancient mistakes involving the extra
eleven Ethiopic numbers. This does not
necessarily mean the elimination of the zillions of the Ethiopic
old figures
above nine and below minus nine that could be displaced
by the efficiency of the Geez zero. However, I would rather see these
symbolic numbers avoided if they continue to stand in the way of the Geez
zero. The new zero empowers the Geez with a complete
set of base 10 digits. Thus, 2001 would be typed as
2001 with
the new zero from within a set just like the Arabic with four digits, instead of
201
(twenty hundreds and one) using three numbers from two fonts. The Geez
201
may appear as 201 on
the Net to
those who do not have our fonts because of the fact that the old Geez numbers are not
positional and the character maps of the Ethiopic 20 and 100 are the
same with those of 2 and 0 respectively. The current Ethiopian calendar
year 19093
(1993) appears as
19093 to those without the fonts. The old
11 or
ten and one for eleven could be written as
11
or two 1's, eliminating discrepancies between those who have and do not
have the fonts on their computers. It is also difficult to
calculate with a number system without zero.
If Ethiopic
users ignore the albo, all the Geez counters
may continue to lose for the wrong reasons. For instance, the Ethiopic numerals are letters, rather than
numbers in the GeezEdit
fonts and the Amharic zero is in Alt 095 position in our 1994 free
font. This is because the standard
positions were given to the Arabic numerals. On the other hand, in the ModEth and
EthioWord fonts, the
Ethiopic zeros and the other nine digits are mapped to the same, but
secondary positions, and can be used with or instead of the Arabic
numerals in the default positions. Considering that I made the Ethiopic zero available and continue to
advocate its inclusion, its absence in the new proposed Ethiopic
Unicode standard should not be acceptable.
References
Arsham H., The
Zero Saga
O'Conner, J.J. and Roberts E.F., History
Topics Index
SwsW gaz (Amharic Mi'f) astm1 tn.] msTmy drjt^
ads aBb^ 19087 ]!m!
A
History of Zero
Ancient
Ethiopian with Numbers
Ancient Greek Number Codes
Babylonian
Numerals
Calendars
through the Ages
Egyptian Numerals
Ethiopian
Calendar (EthioWord)
Ethiopic Calendar
(ModEth)
Ethiopic
Styllographs with Numeric Values
Greek
Number Systems
Indian
Numerals
Mathematics
of the Incas
Mayan
Mathematics
Roman Numerals
The Abacus
The
Arabic Numeral System
The Discovery of
the Zero
Today's
Date
URL of this site is:
http://www.ethiopic.com/ethiopic/numerals.htm
4/10/2001
http://www.ethiopic.com/ethiopic/numerals.pdf
January 9, 2002 12/7/09
