Sadly, this makes me think more kids should have been watching M&M commercials in December of 1999. As reported by the Gainesville Sun:
Proofreaders at the University of Florida appear to have failed the Pepsi challenge.
UF has called off a massive giveaway of Gator T-shirts, paid for by Pepsi, upon realizing that Roman numerals intended to denote the year “2006” on the shirts actually translated into “26” in standard Arabic numerals.
“The giveaway was halted,” said Mike Hill, UF’s associate athletics director for external affairs. “We identified the problem on the first day of distribution and the giveaway was halted.”
The T-shirts, distributed to about 4,000 students picking up football tickets Tuesday, were also scrutinized by Pepsi proofreaders before distribution. Neither party noticed the problem initially, but staff distributing the shirts and the students who received them discovered the error Tuesday, Hill said.
To denote the year 2006, the shirts should have featured the numerals “MMVI,” not “XXVI.”
Granted that “26” and “2006” are just separated by a couple of place-holding zeroes — if you’re working with a number system that has ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands places. With Roman numerals, though, you’re adding it all up (with the occasional kicking back from the sum — IV being five less one, for example).
But here’s where etymology could help a lot. If you know that M stands for “mille” and “mille” indicates a thousand (which is why 1000 millimeters = 1 meter), you’d never think of getting to 2000 with anything other than MM.
And that’s why kids today need to start taking Latin again!