February 21      Where do numbers come from?

Last week I said "11" was English. A kind reader (and two editors) pointed out
that "11" is originally Arabic. My point is that in common usage, "11" can be called "English",
just like "cafe" and "metro" (from French), "dim sum", "yum cha", "chop suey". "chow mien', "wanton", and "wok'  - all are now common usage "English" terms.

But it's true. "11" is originally Arabic .... and even more originally Indian!

According to Wikipedia, the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 are descended from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system developed by Indian mathematicians. The Indian numerals were adopted by the Persian mathematicians in India,
then passed on to the Arabs further west, then transmitted to Europe in the Middle Ages.

The numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 are known as "Hindu numerals" or "Hindu-Arabic numerals". The reason they are more commonly known as "Arabic numerals" in Europe and the Americas is that they were introduced to Europe in the 10th century by Arabs of North Africa, who were then using the digits from Libya to Morocco. Europeans did not know about the numerals' origins in ancient India, so they named them "Arabic numerals". The Arabs themselves call the system "Hindu numerals"!

O no!  I just double-checked:  "cafe" is originally Spanish, and "metro" is originally Greek!!!