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Ulairë Gordis
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I have found out that I know very little about ME numerals. We have detailed accounts of different writing systems, but next to nothing (as far as I know) is told about the rendition of numbers.

The quote I can think of is this
quote:
On the flat under-side [of the stone] Frodo saw some scratches: I"III 'There seems to be a stroke, a dot, and three more strokes,' he said.
'The stroke on the left might be a G-rune with thin branches,' said Strider. 'It might be a sign left by Gandalf, though one cannot be sure. The scratches are fine, and they certainly look fresh. But the marks might mean something quite different, and have nothing to do with us. Rangers use runes, and they come here sometimes.'
'What could they mean, even if Gandalf made them?' asked Merry
'I should say,' answered Strider, 'that they stood for G3, and were a sign that Gandalf was here on October the third: that is three days ago now. It would also show that he was in a hurry and danger was at hand, so that he had no time or did not dare to write anything longer or plainer. If that is so, we must be wary.'- the Knife in the Dark.

So if 3 was represented as III, the ME numerals likely were close to Roman ones.
But maybe there are some more data out there somewhere?
Could someone enlighten me, please?

From: Minas Morgul | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Thorin
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There was some discussion about sources in this thread. From the discussion there it looks like there has been some information published, but I don't have access to it.

Maybe Mith or Eluchil, both of whom seem to have seen these publications, will help out.

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Mithrennaith
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Aye, ehrmmm, ...

It seems that a simple form of the roman numerals (maybe even as simple as just counting strokes) may have functioned with certar writing. Something a bit similar is shown on some of the leaves from the Book of Mazarbul, but there there is also evidence of a system that used certain cirth as numerals - presumably digits, as in the modern positional system, but possibly more like the Greek or Hebrew alfabetic system instead. The evidence is, however, to limited to reach any definite conclusions.

More is known about the system that was developed for use with the tengwar: that was a fully positional system, like our modern (also called 'arabic' or 'indian') numerals. Tolkien possibly developed two different sets of digits. One was revealed by Christopher Tolkien to Quettar (the linguistic publication, now dormant, of The Tolkien society), and published there, I believe in the late seventies - thus before the Mythopoeic Linguistic Fellowship/Elvish Linguistic Fellowship reached its present shape, and present near monopoly on publishing Tolkien's linguistic papers.

Someone, I believe in the Forodrim Tolkien Society (of Sweden), pointed out that the numerals in 'The King's Letter' (in the abandoned epilogue to LotR, published in HoMe IX, with other versions in Vinyar Tengwar) are different from the 'Quettar-numerals', and that in fact an almost complete set of digits can be reconstructed, apparently otherwise working in the same way as the 'Quettar-numerals'.

Both articles can be found somewhere on the internet, but unfortunately I lost my links. []

Aye, well. A search on the net reveals this pdf by Per Lindberg on the Forodrim website. It represents the ´Quettar-numerals´ faithfully. here is a postscript file of the original Quettar article.
And finally here is the article on the 'King's-Letter-Numerals', also by Per Lindberg and on the Forodrim website (Mellonath Daeron is the language guild of the Forodrim).
Only took me an hour and a half ... []

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Thanks!

I just realized that we have another document with numerals in it - Bilbo's contract with Thorin, which was reproduced in The History of the Hobbit. In it, Thorin asks to meet at 11 am.

It is rather difficult for me to work out, but it looks like the numerals are a mirror image of the "1" in the "Quettar-numerals" document you posted.

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Ulairë Gordis
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Oh, Mithrennaith, I am in awe of your learning! []
Thank you for taking your time to reply and to find all these awesome links.

I like Per Lindberg's articles - clear, short and to the point. []
Now I can even write dates in Tengwar!

Thorin, thanks for your help as well. I have read the linked thread, but it was mostly about decimal vs duodecimal systems.

Did Elves really have 6 digits per hand???? []

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Thought: Curved symbols can be difficult to use when scratching on stones, so perhaps Gandalf used simple counting strokes on his stone on Weathertop.
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Tyrhael
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Good work, Mith! As for Thorin & co.'s letter to Bilbo in HotH2, I don't think it'll exceed 'fair use' for me to post the relevant numeral here:
 -

The only thing I can think of which hasn't been covered already is the Rúmilian numerals, but I'm not sure if you're interested in that. Helios de Rosario Martinez has an article about them on Tengwestië.

And by the way, if you're thinking of something Tolkien-linguistic on the internet but lost a bookmark or forgot the link, you can let me know — I have a ton of such bookmarks, and also have some I don't need to bookmark; if you give me a description I can probably find the link for you in a few minutes.

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Ulairë Gordis
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Tyrhael, thank you for posting the link to Rúmilian numerals.

This article is definitely too complicated for my liking [] , but it is great to have the main links in one thread.


So, returning to the runes Gandalf used, it looks like they were not exactly like Roman. If I grasped the method correctly, 4 would be
not "IV" but a new symbol, and 7 the next new symbol.

If we take "V" for 4 and "X" for 7, the sequence 1-9 would look like that

I -1
II -2
III -3
V -4
VI - 5
VII- 6
X -7
XI -8
XII -9

Or have I missed something? []

[ 04-28-2008, 06:44 PM: Message edited by: Ulairë Gordis ]

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