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Number Word Etymologies


Date: 05/03/2001 at 15:48:30
From: Stephanie Alvarez
Subject: Algebra

Who made up the names for numbers?
Like 1 = one, 2 = two, 3 = three.


Date: 05/04/2001 at 12:20:00
From: Doctor Peterson
Subject: Re: Algebra

Hi, Stephanie.

Like all the other basic words in our language, these go back a long 
time, into the ancestral languages of English. You can see some of the 
relationships among European languages by comparing the number words 
given here:

    Numbers in Indo-European Languages
    http://www.zompist.com/euro.htm   

You'll see that most of the numbers can be traced back at least to 
what is called Proto-Indo-European. The forms given there (which are 
assumed, since the language was not written) are

one   two   three   four       five    six    seven  eight nine  ten
oynos duwo: treyes  kwetwores  penkwe  sweks  septm  okto: newn  dekm 

You can see that some number names have changed more than others. The 
study of etymology (history of words) is fascinating and complex; you 
might want to find some good library books on the subject.

- Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
Associated Topics:
Elementary Definitions
Elementary Math History/Biography
Elementary Number Sense/About Numbers
High School Definitions
High School History/Biography
Middle School Definitions
Middle School History/Biography
Middle School Number Sense/About Numbers

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