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Re: German words for "number"
Posted:
Feb 21, 1999 6:20 PM


On Sun, 21 Feb 1999 04:50:23 GMT, scott@math.csuohio.edu (Brian M. Scott) wrote:
>On Sat, 20 Feb 1999 07:22:43 0500, "G. A. Edgar" ><edgar@math.ohiostate.edu.nospam> wrote: > >>The German verb ``z\"ahlen'' means ``to count''. Perhaps Zahl is >>a counting number. > >In fact German <zaehlen> 'to count' is cognate with English 'to tell'; >the connection is clearest if one looks at the less familiar meaning >'to enumerate', as in 'to tell one's beads'. From a purely >etymological point of view <Zahl> ought indeed to be a counting >number, but of course that has no bearing on actual current usage.
It is, in at least one sense: the symbol Z for the integers comes directly from German die Zahlen. While most people don't use negative numbers as 'counting numbers', I suppose this is the usage most related to its etymological origins.



