This puzzle is not about linguistics, but I do not see a better place for this question.

Suppose N(L) is the first multi-syllabic positive integer in the given language L. So

  • N(Russian) = N(Hebrew) = 1,
  • N(Turkish) = 2,
  • N(German) = N(English) = 7, and
  • N(French) = 14.

Do you know a language with N>14?

  • Not sure this is a good place for this kind of question, even if it theoretically has a unique answer, but isn't that wrong for Chechen anyway? omniglot.com/language/numbers/chechen.htm By your definition, N(Chechen) seems to be 10.
    – jogloran
    Feb 15 at 18:48
  • @jogloran Did you mean 11? I don’t know Chechen, but итт ‘ten’ looks monosyllabic to me (based on the fact that Wikipedia gives the name of the language as Нохчийн мотт, in which the last word is /muɔt/), whereas цхьайтта ‘eleven’ must be disyllabic. Whether it’s 10 or 11, French would be an obvious candidate, with the first polysyllabic numeral being quatorze ‘fourteen’ (if you allow quatre as just /katʀ/ in French, rather than /ˈkatʀə/). Feb 15 at 18:59
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    N(Turkish) = 2, it's iki with ‘one’ being bir.
    – Yellow Sky
    Feb 15 at 21:19
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    Just as an interesting aside, if you did it the other way around (last monosyllabic instead of first polysyllabic), you would have languages like Greenlandic that wouldn’t qualify at all, since every number in the language has at least two syllables. Feb 15 at 22:13
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    Is French quatre, pronounced carefully and with emphasis, not a word with two syllables? Online pronunciation samples vary -- LEO is clearly bi-syllabic, while wiktionary is on the edge for me. Regional and individual differences probably make a definite answer impossible. Feb 16 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


You can perhaps answer this question to some degree of certainty using this defunct resource, preserved by the Internet Archive: Numeral Systems of the World's Languages. It contains IPA transcriptions for each included language, although many of the pages were not chosen for preservation by the Internet Archive.

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