Sunday, 7 August 2016

cardinal, ordinal

Atlas Obscura has an interesting article on the rather surprising difficulty the world has faced in adopting a universal “phonetic” code for communicating numbers.
Unlike the NATO alphabet employed for spelling out words and instructions in a way that minimises confusion across the distant crackle of radio communications or across different languages, there’s never been an internationally-recognised way for ensuring clarity in numbers. The entire essay is well worth reading, and among the more clever proposed but failed ideas was from the ITU in Geneva at a 1967 congress: using a redoubling of English numerals and their Italian equivalents—nadazero, unaone, bissotwo, terrathree, kartefour, pantafice, soxisix, setteseven, oktoeight, and novenine. I rather liked that, reminding me of the yan-tan-tethera of sheep-counting.