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Topic: Prefixes-Math & History
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Rebecca Corwin

Posts: 32
Registered: 12/6/04
Prefixes-Math & History
Posted: Oct 24, 1995 12:53 PM
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Reply to: Prefixes-Math & History

Seems to me that one interesting theme in this (and it's always true about
time, other measurement systems, money) is the way languages are grafted
together. Our month names are a cobble of Latin and Greek, named after gods
and emperors (who were also gods).

The other motley-named systems include money--the English absorbed lots of
different names and counting systems--and other measures. You can see and
feel the waves of cultural domination, linguistic flux, and scientific

What were the names of the Mayan months? Norse? Is April a French-derived

This is a perfect place to look at mathematical/scientific naming
conventions. How fun to see what fourth graders would name the months if
they could do it now "for their descendants". What would they memorialize?

And, looking at 2000 as so special is quite fun. How about looking at other
ways of counting years, too, like the Hebrew calendar or the Chinese?

And how come there are seven days in a week? How might that be different in
different cultures?

Date: 10/24/95 12:42 PM
To: Rebecca Corwin
From: Mike CONTINO
Arnie Cutler wrote:
The story as I understand it was that September through
December were at one time the seventh through tenth months. At the
time of Julius Ceasar the calendar was adjusted to correct an
increasingly erroneous match with the seasons. So the months of July
and August were added and the names were chosen to honor Julius
Ceasar and Augustus Ceasar. Sept.- Dec. were moved down to make room
for the two new months.

Yes, And this gave us the so-called Julian calendar with a leap year every
four years--which most people think we still use. In fact we have been off
that standard for some 250 years (in the US, Canada, and other British
and some 400 years in the rest of the world. The astronomers under Pope
Gregory noted that by the 1500s the calendar was again off some 11 days by
Julian method, so they invented the Gregorian calendar which we now use.
solar year is not 365.25 days but more like 365.248 days To correct for
we now skip a leap year once every 100 years. So 1800 and 1900 were not leap
years. 1700 was in the states, but not in France. But this overcorrects the
problem, so they have to put back in the skipped leap year once every 400
years. Thus 2000 will be not only a leap year but a leap century(?)-- easy
miss. It'll look like a normal leap year on the calendar, but will be a first

But the lesson that could be put to great use in math classes looking for
to social studies is: Why was our switch to the Gregorian calendar delayed?
It is related to the question of why the rest of the world uses metric and we
don't. Answer--construct it yourself! but think France, Rome, Church of
England. This also helps to date when all of this occurred. Finally, it is
also related to the fact that Geo Washington was born, not on Feb 22, 17xx
on February 11. At least, that's what mom's calendar said.

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Date: 24 Oct 1995 08:39:46 -0700
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Subject: Prefixes-Math & History
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