Hats On Numbers

I used to have a big problem remembering the numbers 7 and 8, as written in Arabic script (٧ and ٨).

Primarily because they’re just inverted versions of one another and I could never recall if I should be giving someone a V or an N (as I used to refer to them).

This went on for some years until I finally sat down and thought to myself:

“I really need a memory aid to get me past this confusion!”

Anyway, on the way back from the masjid tonight I found myself reading the number eight (in Arabic) on a car license plate and it brought back to mind the aid that I developed (and which I’ve now decided to share).

The way I mastered these numbers was to think of the Arabic number 8 (٨) as a Chinese hat sitting on top of a fat man’s head (i.e. the number 8 ) .

Like so…

Having mentally stored this picture in my head whenever I saw the Arabic numeral ٨, I automatically saw an English number 8 underneath and was able to recognise it for its numeric value.


Now, having spent half an hour or so in Paint trying to illustrate this point, I’ve noticed that it works equally well with a medieval wimple wearing snow-damsel.

So there’s still plenty of scope for inventing variant mnemonics.



Filed under Arabic, The World Through My Eyes

7 responses to “Hats On Numbers

  1. AA- Abu Ilyas,

    That was actually very helpful…I have the exact same problem. It always takes me a few seconds to remember which is which..

    Now if you can just do something about the five, which I’m always mistaking for a zero, which I’m always mistaking for a decimal (or dot)…


  2. Same problem here. The way i remember is, the word seven has the letter ‘v’ in it so in arabic V = 7

    I also used to get mixed up with the words sittah and tissah

  3. Naeem, the five and zero issue is another area that has caused confusion for me in the past.

    I don’t really have a solution for that as yet.

    I just tend to think of the dot of zero as speck in the last stages before disappearing completely into nothing (i.e. into zero).

    Plus khamsah always seems to be on advertisements over here in some shape or form, so I’ve pretty much had its shape drilled into me

    I like Muhajirah’s idea of the v in seven, that works well for me.

  4. I just remembered this.

    I once had to meet someone at gate number 3 of a large mall. Having arrived at the gate and finding them absent an extended telephone conversation ensued along the lines of:

    “Where are you?”
    “I’m at gate 3.”
    “Where, I can’t see you?”
    “I’m right here!”
    “You can’t be right here because I’m right here and I don’t see you!”
    “I’m standing underneath the big number 3, I’m looking at it as I speak.”
    “Argh! But you can’t be because I’m looking straight at it and you’re nowhere in sight… hold on a minute I’ve got an idea.”

    *I walk around to gate number 4 and find my friend*

    “This *I point at the large Arabic number ٤ above the entrance* is the number ‘arba’ah. Which does admittedly look a little like the number three from this side of the glass!”

  5. As salaamu’alaykum

    My way is to remember the juice “seven up” and thus seven is up and eight is down.

  6. This is the funniest stuff lol…

    Anyway: Seven is open to heaven they say.

  7. Although my background is Arab-ish, I still had this problem. I have a similar aide as Umm Ahmed above – I used to think of the game “heads up seven up” that we used to play as kids. Because seven is up…I’m not sure why I felt the need to explain that.

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