Re: Lowercase numerals

From: Patrick Andries (
Date: Thu Nov 21 2002 - 00:16:29 EST

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    > ----- Message d'origine -----
    > De : "Kenneth Whistler" <>
    > > And to complete the answer for Thomas, the Roman numerals are
    > > based on Latin letters,
    > Look like Latin letters, their origin is, I believe, distinct.
    > P. Andries

    I should be more explicit : Latin numerals are not based on the position of
    the letter in the alphabet, contrarily to Greek for instance. Latin numerals
    are not based on the first letter of the word they represent, with the
    exception of C and M, perhaps (*). The numerals reuse for simplicity sake
    the regular letters available resembling the original marks (L, for instance
    was originally written \|/ then _|_), with the exception of the "mirror C"
    which is still productive in large numbers : I))) = 5,000 and is not a
    regular letter.

    (*) C was first written as ")|(" then was abbreviated ")" or "(".
    Apparently, by analogy with other forms and under the influence of the the
    initial letter of centum, C was chosen to represent this number.
    The same is true for M which had, amongst its many early forms, a form close
    to (I), which evolved in CI) [) = mirror C] then M (starting from the 1st
    century B.C.) under the influence of mille.

    Source : Georges Ifrah, Histoire universelle des chiffres, vol. 1., pp.

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