Generally the grammar related to the numbers in Arabic is considered to be the most complicated thing about the language. In fact, it is considered so complicated that many teachers argue that not even Arabs use it correctly. . . .
— All the Arabic You Never Learned the First Time Around
For those who are unfamiliar with Arabic (like me), skimming through the article linked above as well as Wikipedia reveals the elaborate system of case, gender agreement, part of speech and definiteness as well as frequent irregularities within that system.
In my opinion, some specific intriguing examples include:
- gender polarity for 3 through 10
- specific case forms for 12 but not other teens
- unitary numbers from 20 on inflecting only as nouns
- 20 through 90 dictating the case of their associated noun
(The patterns I cited do not only apply to the listed numbers.)
Surely a system of this sophistication has an interesting history associated with it. The only reason I could suggest for why its nuances arose is that the cardinals of the Arabic language were derived from words which predated the language’s inflection system and were not accommodated into it.
Could anyone shed light on this system?