Myriad

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{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}} {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Message box|ambox}} }} Template:Sister A myriad (from Ancient Greek μυριάδες{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, myriades) is technically the number ten thousand; in that sense, the term is used almost exclusively in translations from Greek, Latin, or Chinese, or when talking about ancient Greek numbers. More generally, a myriad may be an indefinitely large number of things.[1]

History

{{#invoke:main|main}} The Aegean numerals of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations included a single unit to denote tens of thousands. It was written with a symbol composed of a circle with four dashes 𐄢. .[2]

In Classical Greek numerals, a myriad was written as a capital mu: Μ, as lower case letters did not exist in Ancient Greece. To distinguish this numeral from letters, it was sometimes given an overbar: Template:Overline. Multiples were written above this sign, so that for example would equal 4,582×10,000 or 45,820,000. The etymology of the word myriad itself is uncertain: it has been variously connected to PIE *meu- ("damp") in reference to the waves of the sea and to Greek myrmex (μύρμηξ{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, "ant") in reference to their swarms.[3]

The largest number named in Ancient Greek was the myriad myriad (written Template:Overline) or hundred million. In his Sand Reckoner, Archimedes of Syracuse used this quantity as the basis for a numeration system of large powers of ten, which he used to count grains of sand.

Usage

Greek

In Modern Greek, the word "myriad" is rarely used to denote 10,000, but a million is ekatommyrio (εκατομμύριο{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, lit. 'hundred myriad') and a thousand million is disekatommyrio (δισεκατομμύριο{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, lit. 'twice hundred myriad').

English

In English, "myriad" is most commonly used to mean "some large but unspecified number". It may be either an adjective or a noun: both "there are myriad people outside" and "there is a myriad of people outside" are in use.[4] (There are small differences: the former could imply that it is a diverse group of people; the latter does not but could possibly indicate a group of exactly ten thousand.) The Merriam-Webster Dictionary notes that confusion over the use of myriad as a noun "seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective ... however, the noun is in fact the older form, dating to the 16th century. The noun 'myriad' has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton (plural 'myriads') and Thoreau ('a myriad of'), and it continues to occur frequently in reputable English."[4]

"Myriad" is also infrequently used in English as the specific number 10,000. Owing to the possible confusion with the generic meaning of "large quantity", however, this is generally restricted to translation of other languages like ancient Greek, Chinese, and Hindi where numbers may be grouped into sets of 10,000 (myriads). Such use permits the translator to remain closer to the original text and avoid repeated and unwieldy mentions of "tens of thousands": for example, "the original number of the crews supplied by the several nations I find to have been twenty-four myriads"[5] and "What is the distance between one bridge and another? Twelve myriads of parasangs".[6]

In British English, a "myriad" is a Template:Convert area, that is, 10,000 square kilometers, particularly on the Ordinance Survey's National Grid.

In other languages

Europe

Most European languages include variations of "myriad" with similar meanings to the English word.

Additionally, the prefix myria- indicating multiplication times ten thousand (×104) was part of the original metric system adopted by France in 1795.[7] Although it was not retained after the 11th CGPM conference in 1960, "myriameter" is sometimes still encountered as a translation of the Scandinavian mile (Swedish & Norwegianmil) of Template:Convert. The myriagramme was a French approximation of the avoirdupois quartier of Template:Convert and the "myriaton" appears in Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy.

East Asia

{{#invoke:see also|seealso}} In East Asia, the traditional numeral systems of China, Korea, and Japan are all decimal-based but grouped into ten thousands rather than thousands. The character for myriad is Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} in traditional script and Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} in simplified form in both mainland China and Japan. The pronunciation varies within China and abroad: wàn (Mandarin), wan5 (Hakka), bān (Minnan), maan6 (Cantonese), man (Japanese and Korean), and vạn (Vietnamese). Vietnam is peculiar within the Sinosphere in largely rejecting Chinese numerals in favor of its own: vạn is less common than the native mười nghìn ("ten thousand") and its numerals are grouped in threes.

Because most East Asian numerals are grouped into fours, higher orders of numbers are provided by the powers of 10,000: 10,0002 was Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} in ancient texts but is now written as 1,0000,0000 and called Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}; 10,0003 is 1,0000,0000,0000 or Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}; 10,0004 is 1,0000,0000,0000,0000 or Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}; and so on. Conversely, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean generally don't have native words for powers of one thousand: what is called "one million" in English is "one hundred wan" in Chinese and "one billion" is "ten chō" in Japanese. Unusually, Vietnam employs its former translation of {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, một triệu, to mean 1,000,000 rather than the Chinese figure.

{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} and {{#invoke:Category handler|main}} are also employed colloquially in myriad expressions, clichés, and chengyu (idioms) in the senses of "vast", "numerous", "numberless", and "infinite". A skeleton key is a Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} ("myriad-use key");[8] the emperor was the "lord of myriad chariots" (萬乘之主{{#invoke:Category handler|main}});[9] Zhu Xi's Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} ("the moon reflects in myriad rivers") had the sense of supporting greater empiricism in Chinese philosophy;[10] and Ha Qiongwen's popular 1959 propaganda poster Template:Linktext{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, which could be literally read as "Chairman Mao is 10,000 years old", in fact meant "Long live Chairman Mao".[11]

See also

References

  1. Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, June 2003, s.v. 'myriad'
  2. Template:Cite web
  3. Schwartzman, Steven. The Words of Mathematics: An Etymological Dictionary of Mathematical Terms Used in English, p. 142. The Mathematical Assoc. of America, 1994.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Merriam-Webster Online. "Myriad". 2013. Accessed 1 November 2013.
  5. Herodotus. The History of Herodotus, VII.184. Translation by G.C. Macaulay, 1890. Accessed 1 Nov 2013.
  6. Janowitz, Naomi. The Poetics of Ascent: Theories of Language in a Rabbinic Ascent Text, p. 118. SUNY Press (New York), 1989. Accessed 1 November 2013.
  7. L'Histoire Du Mètre: "La Loi Du 18 Germinal An 3". 2005. Accessed 1 November 2013.
    1. REDIRECT Template:Link language
  8. Nciku.com. "万能钥匙". Accessed 1 November 2013.
  9. Wai Keung Chan, Timothy. Considering the End: Mortality in Early Medieval Chinese Poetic Representation, 23. Brill, 2012. Accessed 1 November 2013.
  10. Chen Derong. Metaphorical Metaphysics in Chinese Philosophy, p. 29. Lexington Books (Lanham), 2011. Accessed 1 November 2013.
  11. Yeh Wen-hsin & al. Visualizing China, 1845–1965: Moving and Still Images in Historical Narratives, pp. 416 ff. Brill, 2012. Accessed 1 November 2013.