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Numbers: Why are they written 1,2,3...?

Wendy . Blog Published 03 September 2009

When we were in school we learned to recite our numbers: "1,2,3...." Then we learned to write them down, and finally we learned to spell them. We also learned Roman numerals.

The question is: Why do the numbers look as they do? Watch this demonstation and you'll learn how the Arabic numbers were created. What is the logic behind the shapes? There must be a good reason a 2 looks like a 2, right? Well, it's simple and creative. And logical too. The numbers have lasted as they are, for the most part, for thousands of years.

Living in 2 countries, I've always had problems with the 1 and 7. You know that in Spain there is a line through the middle of the 7. That's the way the Arabic 7 was originally written. In the US our 7 looks like your 1. I had a big problem with my bank recently because I filled out a transfer form with the 7 written without the cross through it, and the teller typed in a 1 in place of the 7. We didn't discover the problem until he tried to send the transfer for the 3rd time, each time saying that the account didn't exist!


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Comments (3)
david (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Wow! That was great! Very interesting. Thanks Wendy!!

EMiLiO (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

ha ha after living 3 years in Illinois I came back writing the 7 without the line too... it was easier that way (simpler)... after 4 years back here in Spain I have started doing it the "arabic" way again though... since everybody do it that way here and I want to "fit"!

MPP T53 B2.1 (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Interesting !!! I had never stopped to think that it was the reason, even though I had asked that question many times. Definitely will share with my friends !!! Thanks

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