You Are Number Six/Real Life

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  • In ancient Rome it was popular to name your children after the order they were born or the month in which they were born, using the Latin names for the numbers. (Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, etc.) On the other hand, the ancient Romans very rarely gave a woman a name other than the feminine form of the father's family name, and women in the family were distinguished by the birth order (Julia the Elder, Agrippina the Younger).
    • An important exception: Augustus' birth name was Gaius Octavius (Eighth). Octavius was actually his family name.
    • This was originally the case, but eventually these names became generic enough to be used for anyone. In 'Gladiator' Maximus gives one of his names (Romans had several) as 'Decimus.' Even though this name means 'tenth,' it doesn't mean Maximus had nine brothers and sisters. It just means his parents liked the way it sounded.
    • However, this was the case with girl's names. Before the Principate period, when women started having more names, three sisters from the Claudii family might very well be called Claudia Prima, Claudia Secounda, and Claudia Tertia.
  • The Aztecs had names like Rabbit 13—an animal or something followed by a number. What makes this example even weirder still was that these names were not names, but their day of birth according to the Aztec calendar - called the "Tonalpohualli" and heavily associated with their deities and rituals. [1]
    • The Aztecs had two calendars (possibly three, if they used the Long Count). Names were taken from the ritual calendar, called the Tonalpohualli. "Rabbit" is best described as a month, although the Tonalpohualli does not count months in the same way as the Gregorian calendar we use today.
    • This practice sort of carried on after the Conquest: until roughly The Sixties, common practice was to name people after the saint of someone's birthday. If you were born in the day of St. Paul, for example, your name was Paul.
  • Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto: Isoroku means "56", his father's age at Isoroku's birth.
  • The Nazis tattooed identification numbers on concentration camp inmates, particularly in the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. In addition to allowing easy identification of corpses, the practice was also part of the Nazis' intent to dehumanize the Jews and other targeted minorities.
    • This is probably a Trope Codifier.
    • The book If This Is A Man (known in English as Surviving Auschwitz) addresses this aspect. In particular, one prisoner was so broken that he never spoke. So the others hadn't his real name, and ended up calling him "Null Achtzehn" (018).
  • It's been said that the real purpose of college is to get you to memorize your Social Security number.
    • And your Student Number.
    • There's an old joke that goes something like this:
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The difference between a large college and a small college is that at a large college, the administration says "Screw you, Mr. #7389", while at a small college, however, the administration says "Screw you, Joe."

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  • According to his IMDb record, Shavar Ross has a son named Seven.
  • During the Stanford Prison Experiment, the "prisoners" were assigned numbers and the guards encouraged to call them by those numbers to better simulate a prison setting. It worked too well.
  • The military, all branches. Without a Social Security number, the bureaucracy has no idea who an individual soldier is.
    • Soldiers used to have military ID numbers that they were required to give if they were captured. Somewhere along the line, the military decided to start using the SSNs. Considering you don't want normal strangers finding your SSN, much less the military of a hostile country, the wisdom of this is questionable.
    • Started in the 19th century. Can notably be seen in Zulu where a couple of soldiers are referred to by their name plus service number, because the name was too common. Something similar happened during the Civil War, particularly in the U.S. Colored Troops (many of whom had just gotten a last name, which cut down on the variety).
    • In addition to using SSN for pretty much all administrative purposes, certain training schools will replace a soldier's name with a roster number. The student will be addressed as "Roster 413" so that demerits, if necessary, can quickly be recorded without confusion.
  • Just being British, any branch of government will ask for you National Insurance number (NIno) whether you are seeking benefits or asking why there is a bloody great hole in your street. Although 'number' isn't technically correct - it's six digits and three letters.
    • In Sweden it's even worse. Not only will every branch of government register you by "personal number", but many businesses started using peoples' personal numbers for customer number!
  • In Finland, one's person ID number, "hetu" from Finnish henkilötunnus, is actually one's unique identifier for any official issues. On the other hand, one's hetu is considered a VERY intimate piece of information, and it is prohibited to register it in any private interactions or keep a hetu register for business or other purposes. It is considered as one's True Name as they are unique.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson had his surname legally changed to "Ochocinco" (a mangled Spanish rendition of his jersey number, 85) in 2008. The number 85 in Spanish is "ochenta y cinco". "Ochocinco" means "eightfive".
    • And for his next trick, he's rumored to be changing his name again, this time to "Hachigo" ("eightfive" again, this time in Japanese).
  • The German war crimes prisoners at Spandau (convicted at the post World War II Nuremburg trials) were addressed by guards solely by number. As there were seven prisoners they were known by the numbers 1 through 7.
  • In Nigeria, when twins are born they are named "Taiwo" and "Kehinde". Literally "1st born of twins" and "2nd born of twins". Or as my sis likes to call us: Twin 1 and Twin 2.
    • Due to difficulty in figuring out which of a set of identical twins is which, this happens in most places. Eventually most identical twins just seem to adapt and respond whenever someone says something in their general direction.
  • The inmates of the Magdalene laundries were, according to some accounts, addressed by number rather than name.
  • In Russia, a digit-named boy was ignored by the authorities. While "Dolphin" and "Viagra" (Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?) are not typical names, they have been recognised by the Moscow registry office. However, authorities have refused to give a birth certificate to a boy whose name is simply a series of digits. In English, his name translates into BOHdVF260602 (Biological Object Human Descendant of the Voronins and Frolovs 260602).
  • The flight demonstration teams of the U.S. Air Force and Navy (the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels, respectively) use numbers to identify the positions on the team, and the person currently filling that slot is referred to almost exclusively by that number (e.g. the Commanding Officer is #1, and Lead Solo is #5). Presumably this is to promote the brand of the team, rather than making stars of the individual pilots.
  • In the Mexican college Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo (Umich for short), and possibly many others, when you are accepted you're given a "matricula" (like an ID number) of seven numbers and a letter, while the teachers, all the documents and everything else still refers to you by your name, the computer archive only knows you by your matricula (you can access your file only by your matricula, not by your name), a running joke among alumni (which arguably gets reinvented every new school year) is to refer to their matricula as their "prisoner number".
  • Usually averted with all but the simplest of real life robots. Kismet, Ghengis, and Cog are rather famous examples. Exceptions include military robots, which usually aren't designed with human interaction in mind (unless said interaction came in the form of "bullet, meet brain-pan.")
    • Military squads do tend to nickname robots, though. One squad of marines named a bomb-disposal bot "Scooby-Doo".
  • Sports teams in general assign numbers to each of the players on the back of their uniforms (their actual names may or may not be printed on the back as well). There are several reasons for this: it emphasizes that the members are part of a team, it prevents possible confusion over names (i.e., if two players have last names that are similar or even the same), it's much easier to see at a distance one or two large digits rather than a string of letters, and for some sports (such as American Football) it dictates what rules apply to certain players (i.e., offensive linemen, who are only allowed to wear 50-79 in the NFL, are not allowed to catch a pass unless they report otherwise to the referee).
    • The sense of pride associated with having low numbers is there as well. And number order is occasionally used, especially in the older days, when it comes to placements in hotels or on planes, meaning lower numbers got preferential treatment. This is part of the reason why Wayne Gretzky chose the number 99, as something of a statement for fair treatment.
  • Japan, especially during the feudal era, would name their children 1st son, 2nd son, 3rd son, etc. Today Jiro is still a popular Japanese name and means simply "Second Son".

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