`10`9`100`80`7 = `109100807 = `10900807 =An explanation of this convention follows:

For most practical email exchanges it is enough to type ``1987'' to communicate to the reader the year nineteen-hundred-and-eighty-seven. But for a machine to interpret the Arabic numbers into Ethiopic, ``1987'' becomes a highly ambiguous sequence of numbers. The following is offered to present a method to represent Ethiopic numbers with Arabic for simple computer translation.

In our example, ``1987'', though understood as a Christian year could easily have been a part of a phone number, a street address, or most anything in another context. As there are 20 Ethiopic numbers (21 if the letter ``xi'', used for 1,000 is counted) we are presented with the problem of interpreting then, which numbers the typist had intended to communicate.

In example: is 1987 to be read as the 6 Ethiopic numbers 10-100-9-100-80-7. Or the 5 numbers 10-9-100-80-7, or the 4 numbers 10-9-80-7 , 10-9-8-7, 1-90-8-7, or finally (skipping a few other possibilities) 1-9-8-7.

Writing each of the 20 Ethiopic numbers discreetly avoids the ambiguity problem and the Christian year 1987 is written as 109100807.

It may seem a little ungainly to have to type 9 Arabic numbers so that a computer can understand that 5 Ethiopic numbers are desired. This problem can be affected slightly by applying some of the same philosophy that was presented for denoting the forms of consonants for Ethiopic letters. With the same method applied here the numbers 1,2,3,4...9 are thought of as consonants and the vowels are then 0, 00, 000, and 0000 to denote the forms "tens", "hundreds", "thousands", and "ten-thousands" (analogous to "g`Iz", "ka`Ib", "sals", and "rab`I"). We then have a Fidel for numbers :

ones tens hundreds thousands ten-thousands .... 0 00 000 0000 1 10 100 1000 10000 2 20 200 2000 20000 3 30 200 3000 30000 4 40 400 4000 40000 . . 9 90 900 9000 90000and we may write the same 5 Ethiopic numbers for the year 1987 with the 8 Arabic numbers 10900807. It is intrinsic in this system that when the number of zeros, 0, following a one (1,2,3...9) is greater than 2, that 2 Ethiopic numbers are being represented. That is, it is understood that 200 is equivalent to the Ethiopic 2-100 and 2000 is 20-100. If one wishes to use ``xi'' as a number, 2000 should then be written as 2xi. A small computer algorithm that determines Ethiopic numbers with the system described, is available from the authors.

As a last thought on the representation of Ethiopic numbers with Arabic we suggest that if commas "," or decimals "." be used to denote orders of a thousand as in $5,362 , that the number be interpreted strictly as a summation. In this instance 5,362 = 5000 + 300 + 60 + 2 and is written in Ethiopic as either the 5 characters 50-100-400-60-2 or 5-xi-400-60-2.