Indian Numerals and Latin Numbers

In case you didn’t know, our system of “Arabic Numerals” actually comes from India. We call them Arabic numerals because we got them from the Arabs, who got them from the Indians.

In modern Arabia, they frequently employ the Latin alphabet, which they call “Western Numbers”, for counting purposes. I suppose that this is akin to us learning “Roman Numerals” except that instead of learning a thoroughly worthless counting system, they just learn how to write the numbers that are understood by everyone else in the world.

In Japan they use four different alphabets. Three of these are phonetic, and one of these is based on Latin, which is damned handy for me. They also have an ideographic alphabet that is based on Chinese characters, though the meanings and the way the characters are written have mostly changed from Chinese.

In English, we have only one alphabet, but we have two different ways of writing, and each letter has two cases. While we teach ourselves that our language is phonetic, many words are not pronounced as they are written, because not only did the language once undergo a “vowel shift” which changed everyone’s pronciation, but we’ve also adapted many words from other languages, many of which use the same alphabet with even more varied phonetic rules.

On top of that, Americans once started an effort to clean up the language to make it more consistent, which means another set of different ways to spell the same words.

The French have a “Language Academy” to regulate the French Language. Mostly, they come up with complicated, inconvenient ways to express concepts in French instead of English. I wonder if it might not do a service to the world to establish an English “Language Academy” which is charged with proposing simplified rules which makes our language more consistent, and therefor more useful.

i lik to lern new inglesh, espeshuli wen it is izear to spell.

Of course, we all pronounce words differently anyway, so phonetic English systems look pretty craptastic, because not only do they change existing English spellings, but they depend on a standardized dialect.

Hooray for Hollywood. Since North American English is fairly standard, and highly desired among those adopting English as an International Language, I suppose a “Phonetic English” spelling system could be adopted, for writing purposes, assuming it was sufficiently standardized such that unique words could be translated back and forth electronically. In this way it could actually evolve from an awkward, makeshift pidgin language, into a useable creole.

Except it’s nearly 3AM, and I need a paying job.

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