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In most languages I know there are only two numbers. Singular and plural.In most Indian languages too there are only two numbers.

But in Sanskrit there are three numbers.Singular number(yeka vachana) double number (dwivachana) and plural number(Bahu Vachana).

Is there any advantage of having three numbers linguistically and which other languages have more than two numbers like Sanskrtit?

I have not seen the previous question.Besides I have asked the advantages of having more than two numbers So it is not a duplicate

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    There's not much to say on the question of "advantages". In a limited number of cases it would resolve ambiguities present in other languages, at the cost of extra complexity for second language learners.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 20 '19 at 4:54
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    I haven't written an answer here because I don't think this question has enough that is different to warrant it not being closed as a duplicate. And no, you do not know how anyone has voted up or down your questions, and it is very rude to accuse people of downvoting your questions. Up/down votes are private for good reason. Whoever did downvote this, I think it's fair, because you haven't actually shown much effort of research. For example, did you check WALS or Wikipedia?
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 20 '19 at 5:18
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    Other people are allowed to disagree whether questions are sufficiently distinct. That's why it takes 5 people to close a question (except for mods.)
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 20 '19 at 5:25
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    @curiousdannii is exactly right, it's usually pointless asking about 'advantages' for linguistic features. Eg, most Australian languages have dual pronouns but it's hard to see that there's much advantage gained beyond some terseness and ambiguity resolution at the cost of more complexity (the inclusive/exclusive contrast in first person pronouns on the other hand does 'feel' useful and is something I'd like to have in English). Old English had dual pronouns but they were lost long ago, again it's difficult to correlate this with any (dis)advantages. Sep 20 '19 at 23:21
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Proto-Indo-European seems to have had a dual number (for two things), so many Indo-European languages show remnants of it: it's attested in Ancient Greek, though not quite as abundantly as in Sanskrit, and left various traces across Latin. It's still used today in some Celtic languages. Over in the Semitic world, Biblical Hebrew and Quranic Arabic also had a dual, though like in Indo-European it's atrophied a bit over time; it still shows up in day-to-day Arabic, but in Modern Hebrew it's restricted to a limited set of nouns.

Some languages go one step further and mark a trial number (pronounced "TREE-al" rather than "TRY-al"), used for exactly three objects; this shows up mostly in Austronesian languages, most famously in Tok Pisin (but only for pronouns) (*). Others have a paucal, used for small groups of things, where the definition of "small" depends on the language; this shows up to some extent in modern Russian and some other Slavic languages, for example.

As for advantages…I don't think anyone's shown objective benefits or detriments to having a dual number. It makes it easier to specify "two people" without using an extra word, like how English can easily distinguish "another person" from "other people", but other languages (Mandarin, Japanese) get by perfectly fine without any grammatical number marking at all. Different languages do it differently, and the details just come down to their particular history, not to any universal benefits or drawbacks.


(*) Tok Pisin is a creole combining English, various Austronesian languages, and a smattering of others; its trial number definitely comes from Austronesian, but it's not quite an Austronesian language in its own right.

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    It's a bit of a stretch to call Tok Pisin an Austronesian language...
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 20 '19 at 5:01
  • Don"t try to find a mole hill out of a mountain Sep 20 '19 at 5:26
  • @curiousdannii Fair; the trial number definitely seems to come from Austronesian though.
    – Draconis
    Sep 20 '19 at 16:12
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    @JVL Oh, he's totally right about that; Tok Pisin is a creole, which means it doesn't fit nicely into any language family (it's a mixture of them). Some features are Austronesian, but others are Indo-European (like most of the vocabulary).
    – Draconis
    Sep 20 '19 at 16:17
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Old Church Slavonic has dual - not just remnants of, but the real thing. That language is a "snapshot" of a mixture of 9th century south Slavic dialects and is still in use, unchanged, as a liturgical language in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Having more than two number categories is neither an advantage, nor a disadvantage. It's just a grammatical feature that could appear, disappear, or reappear naturally as a language evolves.

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