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[Comments] (7) Wikipedia Says: Wikipedia says that, originally, movie copyright dates were written as Roman numbers so that the studios could release five-year-old movies in Lebanon or Peru, and the audiences there wouldn't have the fact that the movie was five years old jump right out at them. This is entirely consistent with the known behavior of the movie industry, but I'm suspicious of it because I can't find a non-Wikipedia source for it, and also it forces me to add another item to my previously simple heuristic for when to use Roman numbers.

  1. You are pretentious (Super Bowls, titles of movie sequels, dates carved into buildings, names of people).
  2. You are desperate for visually distinct ways of representing the counting numbers (outlines, page numbering for prefaces).
  3. You want to obfuscate a number (movie copyright dates).

Actually, Pete Peterson II makes me add another item, since he's not named that for pretentious reasons. Lousy heuristic! In a sinister twist of fate, it's now become as complicated as Roman numbers themselves!

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Comments:

Posted by pete peterson II at Wed Nov 02 2005 03:04

I guess that you could say that family names (naming family members directly after ancestors, anyway) fall on the side of pretension, but since I'm named after my long dead relatively anonymous apple farming great grandfather, and it's a weird name that basically invited others to mock me, it's kind of hard to squeeze any pretense out of that. I'm happy to throw a wrench into your theory.

Posted by Leonard at Wed Nov 02 2005 11:04

I've decided that using a Roman number to represent an ordinal number isn't intrinsically pretentious. So most names will end up going into the category I created for you, as will titles of movie sequels. I don't know about names of popes and royalty; they might be an exception to the exception.

Posted by Nathaniel at Wed Nov 02 2005 12:05

There's an exception to every rule ('cept this one).

Posted by pete peterson II -- or am I? at Thu Nov 03 2005 10:16

Well, and as long as we're all for full disclosure here, I'm no longer Pete Peterson II as I took Anna's last name as a second middle name -- I'm Peter Andrew Harrington Peterson! You can keep calling me Pete Peterson II if you like though.

Ray, good point!

Posted by Jason Robbins at Thu Nov 03 2005 12:05

Obfuscating numbers is has been III-I-III-III-VII since ancient times.

Posted by Leonard at Thu Nov 03 2005 12:28

XXXMCCCXXXVII


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