When learning Arabic, many Westerners are surprised to learn that the numerals used in Arabic are not the same as the Western numbers. This astonishment is due to the fact that in Western languages, the numerals used are known as "Arabic numberals" and so it is natural to assume that they are also used by Arabs, but that is not the case.

 

So why do Western languages refer to these numbers as "Arabic numbers" when most Arabs don't even use them and they don't call their own numbers "Arabic"? This is because the numbers used in Europe actually are the form of numbers used in the western part of North Africa over 1000 years ago, from which they were transferred to Europe via Spain.

 

The most commonly used numbers used in the Arabic-speaking world today are known in Arabic as the "Hindi (هندي) numbers." This is because they originated in India, although the form used in most Arabic speaking countries is different from the original form of numbers used in India.

 

Today, most Arabic-speaking countries officially use the "Hindi numerals" but "Arabic numerals" are widely used and recognized as well, especially on things like electronics, appliances and printed price tags.

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What Are Arabic Numerals?

Arabic clockWhen learning Arabic, many Westerners are surprised to learn that the numerals used in Arabic are not the same as the Western numbers. This astonishment is due to the fact that in Western languages, the numerals used are known as "Arabic numberals" and so it is natural to assume that they are also used by Arabs, but that is not the case.

So why do Western languages refer to these numbers as "Arabic numbers" when most Arabs don’t even use them and they don’t call their own numbers "Arabic"? This is because the numbers used in Europe actually are the form of numbers used in the western part of North Africa over 1000 years ago, from which they were transferred to Europe via Spain.

The most commonly used numbers used in the Arabic-speaking world today are known in Arabic as the "Hindi (هندي) numbers." This is because they originated in India, although the form used in most Arabic speaking countries is different from the original form of numbers used in India.

Today, most Arabic-speaking countries officially use the "Hindi numerals" but "Arabic numerals" are widely used and recognized as well, especially on things like electronics, appliances and printed price tags.

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