Mende Kikakui Number 10

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Fri Jun 10 11:05:33 CDT 2016

I can reread the doc several times (I did not read it precisely before) and
in fact Chapter 19 is absolutely not clear at all.

OK, <ONE;combining TEENS> represents 11, but <ONE;combining TENS> is not
clearly represents 10, and the proposals do not exhibit 10 with the same
glyph as PU (even if it is based on it, in fact the combining TENS is a
small subscript glyph variant of letter/syllable PU intended to mark

Using letter PU would discard the initial digit 1, and the subscript
variant, making it confusable with a real letter/syllable PU.

The initial proposal for letter 10 was a PU with a dot, i.e. instead of
small-subscripting the PU glyph for TENS, the PU glyph is still used, but
it is the initial digit one (normally a vertical stroke) which is
subperscripted as a smaller tick (an in my opinion this tick should join
with the letter PU, just like the other digits+TENS are displayed by
attaching the TENS subscript to the standard digit.

I've made some other searches and digits+tens are also rendered by
combining two glyphs of equal vertical size stacked on top of each other
(so the base digit becomes a superscript variant the TENS is also a
subscript, except that in this mode, everything reamins above the baseline
(no need of descenders), numbers are rendered completely with sequences of
combined digits all having the same vertical height, like other

So I don't think that using letter PU can correctly represent the number
10. <ONE+combining TENS> is the way to go (it is then followed by
<ONE+combining TEENS> for 11... <NINE+Combining TEENS> for 19, then
<TWO+combining TENS> for 20, <TWO+combining TENS+ONE> for 21...).

Now for fonts, the sequences with <digit+combining TENS> and
<digit+combining TEENS> both require changing the shape and reducing
vertical size of the initial base digit. There's no complex change of shape
for the combining mark itself: it stacks vertically normally below the
reduced initial digit. There's no case where both combining marks would be
used together for some special meaning, and no evidence that these marks
can be repeated: there can be only one combining TENS or one combining

Other diacritics however may be used if needed for additional notations
outside the number itself (such as arrows or enclosing marks), and would be
encoded after the <digit+TENS> or <digit+TEENS>.

But encoding a standalone digit 10 would have been better (and probably
extending it to standalone versions for 11 and 12, for usage with months
numbers and hours on clock, just like with Roman digits). It would be
interesting to look at how traditional solar clocks or traditional
calendars, or even "modern" mechanical clocks with displays in Kikakui
Mende, are showing these common numbers 10,11,12 (may be there are photos
or facsimiles of artworks or "real life" photos kept in some museum or in
book library or videos showing some religious celebrations or social events
where these digits would have been displayed or taught).

2016-06-10 17:16 GMT+02:00 Frédéric Grosshans <frederic.grosshans at>

> If you look at the documents archived for 2012 (
>, you will find,
> beyond the Mende proposal (
>, several documents
> by Deborah Anderson focused on the problem of the encoding model Mende
> Numbers. ( ,
> ). They all
> discuss the problem posed by the representation of 10 in a model using
> combining character, and the ambiguity of its representation.
> The there is a document (
> on the ad
> hoc meeting deciding the (different) encoding model which has been kept for
> Unicode. But neither this document, nor the unicode standard expliceitely
> say how to represent 10 or say that 10 has an inherent dot. The document
> explicitly says that “precomposed glyphs in smart fonts will give the best
> representation”, so my reading is almost the same as yours :
> Le 10/06/2016 08:15, Andrew Cunningham a écrit :
>>  Represent 10 as U+1E8C7 U+1E8D1 and map it within the font to the PU
>> glyph.
> except that the vertical line of PU goes beyond its “bowl” which is not
> the case for the glyph for 10, which should look like the glyph for TENS,
> with a dot above.
>> And hope that font developers don't create a glyph based on shape of
>> U+1E8C7 and U+1E8D1,  but PU instead.
> Once someone present in the ad-hoc Mende meeting (some read this list)
> confirms (or corrects) this interpretation, I guess it will be time to add
> some clarification in the standard.
>        Frédéric
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