Tuesday, 31 August 2021

conspicous calculation

Addressing the lexical weight of numeracy and the outsized weight we attribute to it as we do with all jargon from coding to spellbinding, we really enjoyed the panel discussion between host Helen Zaltzman and guest Professor Stephen Chrisomalis featured on the latest episode of the Allusionist on numbers and notation. 

We especially appreciated the disabusing reminders about bias, audience and the recent dominance of Indo-Arabic numerals (see also) and the vestigial systems, like Roman numerals, that accord prestige and the fact that I, V, X, L, C, D, Mwere not immutable from Antiquity until now with medieval abbreviations sometimes reflecting the Latin name or using Claudian letters and that the symbols were never meant to denote centum or mille but rather that half X is V and half C is L, and so on.