Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/286

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268
THE ART OF COUNTING.

of numerals from nation to nation still presents interesting philological points. Our own language gives curious instances, as second and million. The manner in which English, in common with German, Dutch, Danish, and even Russian, has adopted Mediæval Latin dozena (from duodecim) shows how convenient an arrangement it was found to buy and sell by the dozen, and how necessary it was to have a special word for it. But the borrowing process has gone farther than this. If it were asked how many sets of numerals are now in use among English-speaking people in England, the probable reply would be one set, the regular one, two, three, &c. There exist, however, two borrowed sets as well. One is the well-known dicing-set, ace, deuce, tray, cater, cinque, size; thus size-ace is '6 and one,' cinques or sinks, 'double five.' These came to us from France, and correspond with the common French numerals, except ace, which is Latin as, a word of great philological interest, meaning 'one.' The other borrowed set is to be found in the Slang Dictionary. It appears that the English street-folk have adopted as a means of secret communication a set of Italian numerals from the organ-grinders and image-sellers, or by other ways through which Italian or Lingua Franca is brought into the low neighbourhoods of London. In so doing, they have performed a philological operation not only curious, but instructive. By copying such expressions as Italian due soldi, tre soldi, as equivalent to 'twopence,' 'threepence,' the word saltee became a recognized slang term for 'penny,' and pence are reckoned as follows: —

Oney saltee . Dooe saltee . Tray saltee . Quarterer saltee Chinker saltee Say saltee Say oney saltee or setter saltee Say dooe saltee or otter saltee Say tray saltee or nobba saltee 1d. uno soldo. 2d. due soldi. 3d. tre soldi. 4d. quattro soldi. 5d. cinque soldi. 6d. sei soldi. 7d. sette soldi. 8d. otto soldi. 9. nove soldi.