Arabic Numbers

Are these actually from Arabia?

Arabic Numbers are the common, base-10 numeric system most people in the world use: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

They’re not from Arabia specifically, but they were brought to Spain in the 900s by Arabic speakers from North Africa across the Straight of Gibraltar.

Why I Looked It Up

A supposed Twitter poll, meant as satire asked, “Should American schools teach Arabic numbers as part of their curriculum?” Predictably, 57% of respondents answered “No.”

However funny (or exasperating) they are, these results are suspect. The responses (a claimed 2,313) would come mainly from people who followed the pollster, and it would seem that someone who posted this would not likely be followed by most the people who answered it incorrectly. So, there’s a good chance it was fabricated as a meme.

But regardless, the point behind the joke got me wondering why we called them by that name, so I looked it up.

This is item #26 in a sequence of 413 items.

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