Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

Recently, I found the Unicode Technical Notes that provide information on a variety of topics related to Unicode and Internationalization technologies. The website stresses that these technical notes are independent publications, not approved by any of the Unicode Technical Committees, nor are they part of the Unicode Standard or any other Unicode specification and publication and does not imply endorsement by the Unicode Consortium in any way. These documents are not subject to the Unicode Patent Policy nor updated regularly.

Being a Tamil, Unicode Technical Note (UTN) #21: Tamil Numbers by Michael Kaplan, fascinated and impressed me.

Originally, Tamils did not use zero, nor did they use positional digits. They have separate symbols for the numbers 10, 100 and 1000. Symbols similar to other Tamil letters, with some minor changes. For example, the number 3782 not written as ௩௭௮௨ as in modern usage but as ௩ ௲ ௭ ௱ ௮ ௰ ௨.

This would be read as they are written as Three Thousands, Seven Hundreds, Eight Tens, Two; and in Tamil as மூன்று-ஆயிரத்து-எழு-நூற்று-எண்-பத்து-இரண்டு.

௧ = 1
௨ = 2
௩ = 3
௪ = 4
௫ = 5
௬ = 6
௭ = 7
௮ = 8
௯ = 9
௰ = 10
௰௧ = 11
௰௨ = 12
௰௩ = 13
௰௪ = 14
௰௫ = 15
௰௬ = 16
௰௭ = 17
௰௮ = 18
௰௯ = 19
௨௰ = 20
௱ = 100
௨௱ = 200
௩௱ = 300
௱௫௰௬ = 156
௲ = 1000
௲௧ = 1001
௲௪௰ = 1040
௮௲ = 8000
௰௲ = 10,000
௭௰௲ = 70,000
௯௰௲ = 90,000
௱௲ = 100,000 (lakh)
௮௱௲ = 800,000
௰௱௲ = 1,000,000 (10 lakhs)
௯௰௱௲ = 9,000,000
௱௱௲ = 10,000,000 (crore)
௰௱௱௲ = 100,000,000 (10 crore)
௱௱௱௲ = 1,000,000,000 (100 crore)
௲௱௱௲ = 10,000,000,000 (thousand crore)
௰௲௱௱௲ = 100,000,000,000 (10 thousand crore)
௱௲௱௱௲ = 1,000,000,000,000 (lakh crore)
௱௱௲௱௱௲ = 100,000,000,000,000 (crore crore)

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4 thoughts on “Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers”

  1. Hello mister Antony Raj

    I would like knowing if there are several way for writing the Tamil numerals?
    Because I saw on a Mauritian bill, 100 and 200 written so: ௧௦௦ and ௨௦௦ and I know the numeral 100 and 200 it’s ௱ and ௨௱.

    Thank you very much for your explanations

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    1. Hello atiska,

      Yes. I have seen the Mauritian currency notes bearing values in Tamil as ௧௦௦ and ௨௦௦. May be the designers of the Mauritian currency bills were not fully aware of the way numerals are depicted in Tamil (௱ = 100, ௨௱ = 200). So, the best way to find out would be to get hold of the design team.

      Like

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