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Previous Article. Next Article. Masthead Dual and plural in languages of Vanuatu Personal deixis and reported discourse: Towards a typology of person alignment A typology of split conjunction Ferdinand von Mengden, Cardinal numerals: Old English from a cross-linguistic perspective Shobhana L. Chelliah and Willem J. Ferdinand von Mengden, Cardinal numerals: Old English from a cross-linguistic perspective. About the article. Published Online : Published in Print : Related Content Loading General note: By using the comment function on degruyter.


A respectful treatment of one another is important to us. Therefore we would like to draw your attention to our House Rules. Very roughly:. When a number is used in the gloss, obviously, it can be broken down to its own constituents, so 12 is "following unit above", etc. The only exception is that the "one" in is a pronoun, similar to "something". I find it interesting that Indo-European numerals from 1 to 4 are declinable and have ablaut nature; meanwhile numerals 5 and higher are indeclinable "stumps".

The only explanation is that numerals 5 and higher were used in simple sequantial counting: 5, 6, 7, 8, perhaps in trade with non-Indo-European tribes.

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  4. If one puts oneself into the situation of an early age where the invention of words for numbers begins there is only one way to do it, by paraphrasing. You can express five by saying as many as fingers on your hand. Two: the number of your arms or feet, etc. If signs and geometrical signs have been developed it is possible to say: Three: the corners of a triangle Four: the corners of a rectangle or square.

    If words for one, two, three have been developed it is easy to express more numbers: Ten: two hands - Behind Latin decem ten might be two hands. Nine: two hands minus one. Eight: two fours.


    The further development of paraphrases will be shortening and contraction till a word form that is short and easy to speak comes into being. Probably the first stage was by means of gestures, such as showing the hand, pointing to the nose or to the legs. Maybe conventions developed for addition and subtraction of two simple numbers.

    Arab safran to sifr "zero" , nothing but a kernel of truth, a blank slate, fresh soil under which the seed isn't seen. This kind of enumeration works with different sets of items: man alif , mother beta , wife, children giml, stick, staff ; house, firewood; eenie meenie mini moe. You get the idea. These can then be mixed, picking one from each set, like Alpha Bravo Charlie Dallas to meet several constraints of clearness, rhyme and you haven't seen it, perhaps not as much on purpose as the American call signs, but rather naturally through evolution of unfit forms.

    Some of those enumerations are idiomatic with little variation in the sequence: "Auge, Nase, Mund" eye, nose, mouth , or "Mutter, Vater, Kind". Thus I'd compare eye and egg as is usually done by hobbyists and add one and legume. This won't lead anywhere because:. It's reasonable to assume that number words dissimilate, because they form a special category; Speakers wonder nevertheless and may lexicalize similar looking looking or sounding words together--that's called folk etymology. Oh, the question was for references.

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    Few people are crazy enough, and if they are, they become drowned in mystic numerology to pack books full of it, that are interesting to skim but remain inconclusive. Refer to the previous paragraph on why nothing good on the matter can exist. And then there's Nostratic. No number words are listed there. Perhaps from Latin quatare "to shake". If the basic sense was grinding [under a stone] and thus mixing , than a sense to pair could develop from that. If it relates to fire, Sign up to join this community. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered. Etymology of basic numerals number words Ask Question. Asked 4 years, 7 months ago. Active 4 months ago. Viewed times. Damian Yerrick Damian Yerrick 3 3 silver badges 15 15 bronze badges. Some progress must have been made since I just googled "language number system" and got million hits.

    Here's an interesting looking article from SIL: www Comrie's article largely agrees with Conant on strategies used for building names of larger numbers but doesn't touch on where languages get their words for, say, Did I miss some related material on Chan's site? I haven't looked at Chan's website or Comrie's article. Are you interested only in number words in PIE? There has been a great amount of work on numbers, counting, and enumeration in the world's languages.

    Do you have a specific question?