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DD asked a question I can't answer (or find the answer for)

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Because it is the convention we humans have agreed upon.


It would be equally possible to come up with a notation where place value increases from left to right - or to pronounce the numbers from right to left (which, for two-digit numbers, is actually done in quite a few languages: twenty-one in German is literally "one-and-twenty". In English we do it to numbers under twenty: "eighteen" instead of "teen-eight"..)

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That's interesting about German, regentrude. I never knew that. I often find myself wishing we did the "teens" in English the way they do in Spanish (ten and seven for 17), though, as they are very confusing to dd.


What about cultures that read from right to left? Do they also write place value the way we do? That seems like a tough leap to make in reading larger numbers.

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