British Style Roman Numerals?

I’ve been watching a DVD of the BBC series As Time Goes By and enjoying it thoroughly…until the end credits.

The series was taped in “MCMXV.”

Or at least that’s what I think it says.

But that’s 1915. Dame Judi is a little closer to my age I think. What gives?

IMDB tells us it was filmed between 1992 and 2002. So assuming it did end in a V you must have seen one made in 1995, which is MCMXCV. You missed a character.

There is not, so far as I know, any difference between “British style roman numerals” and whatever style you are used to. The only two different styles I’m aware of are original roman, which was purely additive (I II III IIII V VI VII VIII VIIII X) and Victorian subtractive (I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X).

That seems too short. maybe it was MCMXCV which I seem to recognise better.

I have no idea what number that is though.

I was right! (simulpost, I did not see your post before posting mine) Well remembered Lobsang! and I don’t even know how to read roman numbers.

Really? Did the Romans not use the subtractive method at all? I thought that difference only applied to IIII versus IV four. Well, you learn something new every day here :slight_smile:

I’ve double checked the two discs we have here. I don’t have the boxes – only the envelopes from Nexflex.

Season 5 was taped in MCMXV (their mistake)
Season 6 was taped in MCMXCVII

They appear to have skipped a season if they intended for the first to be 1995.

I have noticed the IIII used on clock faces before and wondered about the origin of the tradition.

The BBC does take a certain flexibility over the numerals used. They decided that 1999 would just look silly as MIM, so they used MCMXCVIIII instead.

Shouldn’t that be MCMXCIX?

MIM is wrong in all styles of Roman numerals, because you only subtract from the digit which is 5 or 10 times larger, i.e.:
1 from 5 or 10 – IV or IX
10 from 50 or 100 – XL or XC
100 from 500 or 1000 – CD or CM

How to convert ordinary numbers to Roman style and vice versa is tabulated at:


Now you know! :smiley:

That would be the old version of As Time Goes By which was broadcast for 1915-era proto-tellys. :wink: (It’s a good thing it didn’t say MCMXX or we would have to endure the “Death Rays” comments.)

The Romans DID sometimes use it, they just did not do so consistently, and sometimes used other subtractive conventions as well - I suppose some ancient Romans might indeed have written 1999 as “MIM” if they had thought about it. Here’s an article, which includes several historical examples:

So have others.

GODDAMMIT!!!..yeah, that’s right…sulks in a very geeky corner

You’re not the first to spot the BBC’s goof… see here (halfway down page)

For the record, IIII as opposed to IV dates from uncial lettering and has a religious significance. As most people know, the Chief Honcho of the Roman Gods was Jupiter – but notice that we write that with an initial “Ju-” which were not classic Roman letters, and that the rest of the word is “-piter,” a variant on “pater” meaning “Father.” The actual name in uncials was written with an I for the modern J and a V for the modern U – producing IVPITER, of which the first part was the “name” and the second the father appellation.

Pious Roman pagans avoided writing IV as a separate entity for 4, since it was the name of the Father God – and Christians when they became prevalent avoided it because it was acknowledging a pagan god. Therefore the custom of using IIII on clocks, etc., in lieu of the IV of classic subtractive Roman numerals arose out of religious scruples.

Note, though, that this did not apply to XIV, XXIV, LXIV, etc., where the letters constituting the divine name were simply a part of the number. Only as a standalone IV was it deemed to represent Jupiter’s name and therefore avoided. (To work up a parallel, a devout Og-ite if there were such a person would not find “We slogged through the bog with our tracking dog in search of the lost clog” (presumably Coldfire’s ;)) as referencing their deity; the words merely contain the divine name as letters.)

Colophon, thanks for the Feedback feedback. I thought for a minute there that maybe this topic had been discussed before at SDMB.

And Earl, I appreciate the link.

Polycarp, it’s amazing how we complicate our lives in efforts to protect the sacred.

Thanks, everybody.

Anyone want to show me how to find the square root in the Roman system?

This was already referenced in the SD column in the link in post #12 .

No, nobody wants to. Including you ;).

It’s hard enough to do multiplication, and very hard to do division. That’s why the Romans used abacuses for any serious calculation, and only used Roman numerals to write down the answers.

In the column that was linked earlier, I find it disturbing the the two addenda to the original question are headlined “A SITE FOR FOUR I’S, PART ONE” and “A SITE FOR FOUR I’S, PART TWO”.

Shouldn’t the first word be Cite? As in ‘Citation’?