number-words and other numerical systems: great source

Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Wed Apr 27 18:18:32 UTC 2005

Several times questions have come up on this list about the Indian systems of turning numbers into words, especially in verse, numbering systems other than numerals used for pagination of manuscripts, and the like.  There is an excellent reference book on numbers in general which has a very thorough treatment of most of these topics, putting together information otherwise quite scattered.  It is:

Ifrah, Georges.  Histoire universelle des chiffres : l'intelligence des hommes
racontée par les nombres et le calcul.  Paris : R. Laffont, c1994.  2 v. : ill. ; 

English translation:  The universal history of numbers : from prehistory to the invention of the computer. Translated from the French by David Bellos ... [et al.].  London : Harvill Press, 1998.  xxiv, 633 p. : ill. 

American ed.:  New York : Wiley, 2000- 2 vols.

I am a bit puzzled about the American ed., because it is certainly available in a one-vol. ed. in the US, and in paperback.  See  I think perhaps that vol. 2 is really what is published by Wiley as Universal history of computing.

Further information:

Electronic File Info.:   Contributor biographical information
                         Publisher description
                         Table of Contents


Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Southern Asia Section
Asian Division
Library of Congress
Jefferson Building 150
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732
fax 202-707-1724
athr at
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.

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