Questions tagged [numbers]

An abstract mathematical object that represents a quantity, such as the concept of "2" or the meaning behind "2π". Numbers are represented by symbols called "numerals".

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2answers
76 views

What did Proto-Indo-Europeans use words for numbers up to 100 for?

I read that proto-Indo-European had words for numbers, just like modern languages. That did not surprise me. What surprised me is that they had words for numbers up to 100 or even 1000. I'm just ...
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4answers
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Do any languages mention the top limit of a range first?

In many languages we usually say "between min and max" (e.g., grades "between 1 and 10"). Are there any languages where the reverse construction ("between max and min", e.g. grades "between 10 and 1")...
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What term predated “even” when referring to numbers? [closed]

In doing some poking around in etymologies, I noticed that while "odd" in the sense of "odd number" is attested as early as c.1300 (and is in fact the original sense of the term), "even" in the sense ...
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1answer
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How did the complexities of Arabic cardinals arise?

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 ...
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Balinese independent numerals partial reduplication

The Balinese numbers in dependent and independent forms are given as linked. I just need to verify the assumptions that I made about the (possibly reduplicated) derived, independent form. 1) if the ...
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2answers
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Is it possible that a language's number system is inherently wrong?

Is it possible due to mythological reasons or some other human error (what can be the reasons of those errors in that case) that a language's number is flawed for e.g. -> Copainala Zoque number ...
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0answers
40 views

When were numbers first used as code/shorthand for unrelated meanings?

I was considering this xkcd, which got me wondering, were there any examples of number based shorthand like “ten-four” in the comic used in the time periods this comic considers “old-timey”? In other ...
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1answer
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How did Proto-Indo-European *septm evolve into English “seven”?

The PIE *septm should have changed to Pre-PG *sefθen, by the Grimm's Law. Then, by the Verner's Law, it should have changed to *sebθen. Why did the *θ disappear for the word to develop into "sieben" ...
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Are there any languages with words for negative powers of 10 like Japanese?

In Japanese they use 分, 厘, 毛, 糸, 忽, 微, 繊, 沙, 塵, 埃 for negative powers of 10 from 10-1 to 10-10 respectively There's also another system with a little bit different value range https://en.wikipedia....
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Is there any language with number system that uses subtraction? (Other than Ainu)

Generally all number systems use addition or multiplication to express numbers like - '12*3 + 6 for 42 in a base 12 system', '2 on the way to 50' or 'even 10+10+10+10+2 in some'. But, are there number ...
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166 views

Could you point out some theories on how the names for numbers developed?

At this point I don't want to explain my personal crackpot theories on how names for numbers emerged and I assume that anything remotely connected with the origin of language is highly speculative and ...
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2answers
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Are numeric notations independent of the languages spoken by their creators?

This question shows that Roman numerals did not take advantage of the regularities that were present in Latin. Quīnquāgintā (L) is clearly built from quīnque (V), yet their Roman numerals aren't ...
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1answer
90 views

Was 1 considered a number under older meanings of number?

I have read a popular account somewhere that contended that 1 did not used to be considered a number, with common sentences like "He has a number of friends in England." or some such as evidence. Is ...
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Why do languages use different symbols (. or ,) as the thousands separator?

Examples of the separators can be seen in this Oracle number formatting chart. It appears that the Anglophone countries use , as the thousands separator and . as the decimal separator, but other ...
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1answer
174 views

What is the reason for some languages have non-linear word order for numbers?

Is there a scientific/historic explanation for the reversed word order for numbers in some languages? For example, while we have for 32: in English: thirty two (tens units), Hebrew: shloshim ...
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4answers
222 views

Are there any languages where numbers have cases?

Are there any languages which use different cases of numbers for different uses?
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Is there a language that begins range expressions with the higher/later datum?

If someone were to say There were between twenty and ten people at the event. or I will be there from the fifth to the second of July. that person would sound strange indeed, because in ...
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4answers
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Languages where numbers are read out in a mixed-up fashion

The German number system has the peculiarity that the ones are read out before the tens. For example: 634542 = Sechshundertvierunddreißigtausendfünfhundertvzweiundvierzig = "six hundred four-...
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3answers
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Two and Three; Four and Five; Six and Seven are paired by their first letters T, F, S

What I said in the title above seems to be roughly true in the European languages that I have checked, so my question is: Could ancient Indo-European, or a precursor of it, used a suffix that meant "...
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4answers
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What kind of a word class are numbers?

For example, in the sentence: 'that book weighs six kilos'...what is the word class of 'six'? I know some grammars have 'numerals' as a word class, but if you don't have that, what is it? an Adjective?...
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Do all cultures allow for 1 to 1 swapping of decimal numerals?

Given the decimal numerals we're all familiar with: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0 And given any number, for example: 1 100 156021 -23 -212311 242.2129 -21.001 Can we safely assume that in every language in ...
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Do any languages use suffixes to represent place value in numbers?

As part of a book I'm writing, I'm making a language that uses suffixes on number words to represent place values. English uses "-ty" for this purpose to mark tens, but I want to do it to larger place ...
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154 views

In what languages do eleven start with /b/ and fourteen start with /e/? [closed]

How do I find a foreign word for a number that starts with a given sound? I'm writing an article about what English might look like if its numerals were in hexadecimal (base sixteen). For this, I ...
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Counting in base n [closed]

Edit: When teaching math to English only students they are often unaware that the numbers from 11 to 19 do not follow the normal rule for saying numbers. It is fun to point this out while leaning ...
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1answer
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How are numerals written in Arabic?

How are multi-digit numbers written in Arabic? For example, if someone wanted to write 123, would they write "321" from the right or in some other way?
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Words for fractions

While in English we have a "quarter" and a " half" as two words which denote fractions, in Hindi we have separate words for half ('Aadha'), Quarter ('Sava'), three-quarters ('Pauna'), One and a half ('...
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1answer
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When are numbers nouns?

In my native language, Portuguese, numbers have officially been in various classes, from adjectives and nouns to "quantifiers" and determiners. I'm thinking that perhaps we can't group them all, ...
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Why do different languages have different amounts of unique words for numbers between 10 and 20?

I've read a similar question here which mainly dealt with why English only has eleven and twelve as unique words with some interesting ideas. But my question is why do different languages have ...
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1answer
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How could complex numerical interrelationships arise naturally in a language? [closed]

In Hebrew and possibly other abjads, there is a concept called "gematria", which is, in short, that each letter has a numerical value proceeding linearly through the alphabet, such that א equals 1, ב ...
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1answer
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Is it *incorrect* to use single digit numerals? [closed]

I had an argument with someone recently and figured I should find out, so I went on a research spree and could not find any authoritative answers on the subject. I am sure there are many disputes ...
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1answer
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Pahlavi and Parthian numerals

Does anybody know how the following numerals were used and provide some example? (at least one them, they are related languages) (source of images is Unicode characters maps)
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Word for eighteen expressed as Twenty Minus Two

Other than Latin, are there any languages that have a word for the number 18 that means twenty minus two? A quick glance at some of the numeral systems of languages in the Indo-European reveal that ...
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Which modern, spoken languages do not use the decimal number system?

Rationale: While writing a document about foundations of computer science and describing that a number is a sequence of digits, I was wondering about our relation to the decimal system. In English ...
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1answer
603 views

French Numbering System - Eighty to Ninety-Nine

Why does French use the format "4 x 20 + n" (n = 0 to 19) for numbers from eighty to ninety-nine?
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1answer
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What is the relationship between the PIE roots *dekṃ and *kṃtóm?

It seems that there is a consensus that the PIE roots for ten and hundred are, respectively, *deḱṃ and *ḱṃtóm. There also seems to be a consensus that *ḱṃtóm is a shortened version of *deḱṃtóm. These ...
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Is there a term in linguistics for underdeveloped number systems?

I had trouble phrasing a recent question because I couldn't find simple wording to convey the difference between languages like English where all kinds of numbers are expressible, such as "nineteen ...
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527 views

Are there languages with indefinite articles but for which the word for “one” is not related etymologically to any of the indefinite articles?

This is part of a set of three related questions but note they are each specific and distinct, they are not duplicates. In all the languages I'm familiar with that have an indefinite article, the ...
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Are there languages which lack a full number system but which have an indefinite article?

Most languages have a fully developed concept of numbers but many do not, for instance most Australian Aboriginal languages lack numbers and counting beyond a few such as 1, 2, and 3. Many languages ...
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How do linguists determine whether a language has an indefinite article?

Given: For those languages which have it, the indefinite article mostly if not always is derived from the numeral for "one". Most languages have numbers but many lack articles. How do linguists ...