ChronograMs: CLeVer Letter-seqVenCes enCoDIng Integers
November 30, 2012 7:11 AM Subscribe
posted by misteraitch (24 comments total)
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is a text (often an inscription
), in which certain letters, construed as Roman numerals, express a date via the sum of their numerical values. For example, the sentence ‘L
s,’ printed on a pamphlet might indicate its year of publication as (L + D + V + M + C + I + V + V =) 1666.
Chronograms could be found on, for example, buildings & gravestones
, medals & coins
, and maps
The mother-lode for all things chronogrammatical must surely be James Hilton's volume Chronograms—5000 and more in number excerpted out of various authors and collected at many places
(1882) and its two sequels
issued in 1885 and 1895 respectively.
Harry Mathews wrote a number of Oulipian chronograms: ‘An Ex-voto to include excursive excavators: a Chronogram for 1997’; ‘An exclusive evolutionary vortex of world excursions: the Chronogram for 1998
’ and ’Clocking the World on Cue: The Chronogram for 2001
Outside of the Western languages (and the Latin alphabet), chronograms have been devised in Arabic, Persian
and Urdu [PDF]
using Abjad Numerals
; and there is a ‘Javanese tradition [PDF]
of expressing dates in candrasengkalas
: i.e. by representing the numbers in dates by words having a fixed numerical value.’
Note also the related numerological techniques of gematria
When writing your own chronograms, use this handy calculator
to determine the year corresponding to your text!