Re: Unicode is universal, so how come that universality doesn’t apply to digits?

Zach Lym indolering at
Tue Dec 29 12:37:41 CST 2020

Trying to reboot this conversation, what *demand* is there for supporting
non-latin digits?

AFAICT [1], most literate adults use latin digits (0-9) for basic math in
North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and countries using a CJK
script.  Online stores and license plates for the UAE and India lists
prices using latin digits.  By process of elimination [2], language groups
that don't use latin numerals drops to <100 million.

If those numbers are accurate, then there isn't enough of a critical mass
to justify the implementation effort.  Not if you aren't also going to
translate keywords....

Thank you,
-Zach Lym


On Wed, Dec 23, 2020 at 7:30 AM Steven R. Loomis <srl295 at> wrote:

> For much more on localized numbers, see CLDR,
> -s
> On Sun, Dec 20, 2020 at 1:57 PM Zach Lym via Unicode <unicode at>
> wrote:
>> I don't think it's fair to dismiss this as "not a unicode problem."  As
>> the OP pointed out, support for non-latin variable names is largely due to
>> Unicode's identity standard and extensive implementation advice.
>> The section on numbering (5.5) is only a page long and
>> essentially recommends handling decimal based numbering systems.  There
>> isn't nearly as much care given to this topic.  There is a standard annex
>> on mathematics, but that is in PDF form and is largely concerned with
>> parsing and display of mathematical formulas.
>> However, as is the answer to most questions, it is a matter of time and
>> money. If someone is willing to spend the time expanding 5.5 writing a new
>> annex, I am sure the Unicode committee would be happy to review it.  Would
>> you be interested in doing that legwork?
>> I'm actually pretty new here, what's the best way Roger could contribute
>> to make Unicode better in this regard?
>> Thanks,
>> -Zach Lym
>> On Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 5:23 PM Mark E. Shoulson via Unicode <
>> unicode at> wrote:
>>> On 12/16/20 10:40 AM, Doug Ewell via Unicode wrote:
>>> What I don't understand here is why this is being framed implicitly as a Unicode problem, or an XML problem, or a general law of nature ("why can’t a Bengali-speaking person use the Bengali digits"), instead of an inherent limitation of that particular library function used for that particular language.
>>> Yes, exactly.  This is "a characteristic of the code libraries, not a
>>> Unicode problem."
>>> There are probably reasonable reasons not to update the actual
>>> atol/strtol calls, but one could certainly write a library to do what
>>> you're talking about... and apparently someone has, by Bill Poser's report
>>> of his libuninum.  There ya go.
>>> ~mark
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