We take a short break from our regular presentation of ‘Word Origins’ to present this special article.
Word Origins will be back very soon.
The Origin of Decimal System in India
Copyright © 2007 by Rangi Ranganath
The decimal system is based on a ten-number system from zero to nine. The word decimal derives from the union of Indian Sanskrit dasha ‘ten’ and English numeral which means ‘symbol representing a number’. English numeral derives from Arabic nummee ‘coin’ which becomes Latin nummus ‘coin’ and German die Nummer ‘number’.
Other languages follow Indian Sanskrit dasha ‘ten’.
Indian Hindi/Urdu das ‘ten’
The d in all above Indian languages is pronounced as soft d as in this.
Greek pronounciation of d is the same.
All the following words uttered outside India mean ‘ten’ or ‘related to ten’ as shown.
English prefixes deca-, dece- and deci- ‘related to ten’
How Indian s/sh sounds become Latin and Greek k sound will be explained a little later in this part of the article.
Thus deci (from Indian Sanskrit dasha) + English part mal (from numeral from Arabic nummee,
Latin nummus and German die Nummer) = English decimal
Indian Sanskrit dasha modified as dec is present in all the major languages of the world.
c has mostly s and sometimes k sounds.
Latin December, tenth and final month of the old Roman calendar
In 45 B.C. it was replaced by the Julian calendar with 12 months and 365 days.
See also Some Interesting Historical and Linguistic Facts at the end of this part
to see how September, October and November have Indian origins.
Latin decempeda ‘ten-foot measuring rod’
Indian Sanskrit paadah means ‘foot’.
Latin decempedator ‘surveyor who uses the decempeda’
Latin decemplex ‘ten-fold’
Latin decemcalmus ‘having ten lowrocks’
A lowrock is a device to hold the oars in place in a row boat. It is also called an oarlock.
Latin decemprimi ‘ten chief men in the senate of a municipality or colony’
Latin decemvir ‘ten magistrates in Rome’
Latin decemviralis ‘relating to the decemvir’
Latin decemviratus ‘office of the decemvir‘
English and Latin deci-, combination form meaning ‘one tenth’
English decibel, unit of sound, one tenth of a bel
English decile, statistical term dividing a population into ten equal groups
English deciliter, one tenth of a liter
English decimal fraction
English decimal place
English decimal point
English decimal system
English decimate ‘kill one in ten’
English decimate comes from the ancient Roman custom of killing one in ten soldiers of a mutinous legion.
Due to massive ignorance decimate means ‘mass killing’ today.
English be decimated
English decimeter, unit of distance, ’one tenth of a meter’
Latin decimus ‘tenth’
Latin decimat ‘taken as a tenth’
Often Indian or other s/sh sounds become k sound in Greek and Latin.
Indian sitaar ‘long stringed instrument’, Greek kithara, guitar, ‘short stringed instrument’
Indian Sanskrit ashva ‘horse’, Latin equus ‘horse’
English citron (pronounced as sitron), Greek kitron
English cellar (pronounced as sellar), Greek kelari
English cinematography (pronounced as sinematography), Greek kinimatografos
The following words mostly use c as k sound and sometimes as s sound.
English deca-, combination form meaning ‘ten’
English decade ‘period of ten years’
English decagon ‘geometrical figure with ten sides’
English decagonal ‘ten-sided’
English decagram ‘ten grams’
English decahedron ‘solid shape with ten faces’
English decaliter ‘ten liters’
English Decalogue ‘Ten Commandments’
English Decameron ‘hundred tales told by ten men in ten days about their fleeing from the Black Death’
English decameter ‘ten meters’
English decan ‘equal ten-degree division of a sign of the zodiac’
English decasyllabic ‘ten-syllable metric line’
English decatherm, unit of heat, 1,000,000 British Thermal Units (Btu)
One therm = 100,000 Btu
English decathlon ‘ten-event sports competition’
English decennial ‘occurring every ten years or lasting ten years’
English decennium ‘period of ten years’
English dekagram ‘ten grams’
English dekaliter ‘ten liters’
English dekameter ‘ten meters’
English Dewey Decimal System, universal book classification system used in libraries
English dodeca, combination form meaning ‘having twelve’
English dodeca derives from Indian Sanskrit dwa ‘two’ + dasha ‘ten’.
English dodecaphonic ‘having twelve sounds’
English dodecagon ‘plane figure with twelve sides’
English dodecahedron ‘solid figure with twelve faces’
English Dodecanese ‘group of twelve Greek islands’
English duodecimal ‘number system with 12 as base’
English duodecimal derives from Indian Sanskrit dwa ‘two’ + dasha ‘ten’.
English duodecimally, adverb of duodecimal
English duodecimo ‘twelve page book’
English hexadecimal ‘number system with 16 as base’
English hexadecimally, adverb of hexadecimal
Indian Sanskrit dasha to English dec to Greek deka yields the following Greek words.
In all Greek words listed below d is pronounced soft as in this.
deka, dekada, dekas ‘ten’
dekaex, dekaeksi ‘sixteen’
We will see in number 7 how Indian Sanskrit sapta becomes Greek epta ‘seven’ by dropping
the first s sound of Sanskrit. Likewise Spanish siete ‘seven’ drops the p sound of Sanskrit.
dekaetirida ‘tenth anniversary’
dekakis ‘ten times’
dekalogos ‘Ten Commandments also called the Decalogue’
dekameris ‘of ten parts’
dekaimeron ‘ten-day period’
We will see in number 8 how Indian Tamil ettu becomes English eight, German acht and
dekapentharia ‘about fifteen’
dekapentasillavos ‘fifteen syllable line’
dekapentoogosto ‘first fifteen days in August’
We will see in number 5 how Indian Sanskrit pancha ‘five’ becomes Greek pente ‘five’.
dekara ‘coin worth ten lepta’
lepta is Greek currency.
dekariko ‘coin worth ten drachmas’
drachma is Greek currency.
We will see in number 3 how Indian Sanskrit thri ‘three’ becomes Russian tri, English three and Latin/Greek tria.
dekatria, dekatris ‘thirteen’
Some Interesting Historical and Linguistic Facts
In the old Roman calendar September was the seventh month (from Indian Sanskrit sapta ‘seven’).
October was the eighth month (from Indian Tamil ettu ‘eight’).
November was the ninth month (from Indian Sanskrit nava ‘nine’).
In 45 B.C. the old Roman calendar was replaced by the Julian calendar with 12 months and 365 days.
English Decalogue means ‘Ten Commandments’ given to Moses by God. The Greek word logos
derives from Indian Sanskrit loach ‘language’ which derives from Indian Tamil choll ‘say’.
It is easy to see that Indian Sanskrit loach (l-ch sounds) is mirror image of Indian Tamil choll
(ch-l sounds). ch and g are called sibilant (related) sounds. They are freely interchanged.
Thus Greek logos = Indian Sanskrit loach
Indian Sanskrit loach and Greek logos lead to Spanish lengua ‘tongue’and final English word language.
Expanded parts on individual numbers coming up very soon
Origins of Other Numbers in India
Russian nool, nol, Spanish nulo, French nul, nulle , German null and English null from Indian Sanskrit nihil
Russian odin, German ein and English one from Indian Tamil onrru ‘one’
Russian dva, dve, Polish dwa , Latin/English duo, Greek dio and Spanish dos from Indian Sanskrit dwa ‘two’
Russian tri , Spanish tres, French trios, English three and Greek tria, treis from Indian Sanskrit thri ‘three’
Russian chetyre , Latin quat(t)uor, Spanish cuatro and English quarter from Indian Sanskrit chathur ‘four’
Latin/English penta, Greek pente from Indian Sanskrit pancha ‘five’
Russian shesht , Spanish seis, German sechs and English six from Indian Sanskrit sasha ‘six’
Latin septem, Spanish siete, Greek epta and even English seven from Indian Sanskrit sapta ‘seven’
Indian Hindi/Urdu aatt, English eight, German acht and Greek octo from Indian Tamil ettu ‘eight’
Spanish neuve and English nine from Indian Sanskrit nava ‘nine’
These simple facts are there to see and hear.
Language started in India.
To see our other articles about the origin of language in India click below
To view our book One People One Language click below
To view our book Real Roots of German, Greek, Latin and English click below