Some Indo-European languages (e.g. English, Spanish, French, most Slavic languages) have a big-endian pronunciation of numbers: 153 is hundred-and-fifty-and-three. Others (e.g. German, Sanskrit, ancient Greek) invert the order of tens and ones: 153 is hundred-and-three-and-fifty. (The "and"s may be present or implicit, depending on the language.)

Why? Was there ever a point where the inversion was present (or not) in all Indo-European languages?

(I suspect that it might be a change that just happens randomly, as there seem to be differences in non-Indo-European languages too -- Arabic has the inversion, Mandarin doesn't. But the scope of the question is only Indo-European languages, as I don't want to make it too broad.)

  • I noticed that the inversion is also present in old(er) English novels. So English seems to have had the inversion, but they gave it up during the last 100...200 years.
    – virolino
    Apr 11 at 9:11
  • Fifteen looks a bit inverted as well
    – Jan
    Apr 22 at 0:04


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