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Do any languages mention the top limit of a range first?

In German, I am aware of two instances where the "reverse" order is used: 1) The weather forecast of the newscast "Tagesschau" (and quite possibly many other weather forecasts, but not all) always ...
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12 votes

Is there any language with number system that uses subtraction? (Other than Ainu)

The Yoruba language has a rather elaborate vigesimal (base-20) numeral system that involves both addition and subtraction and multiplication. There are words for each of the decades; units in 1–4 are ...
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11 votes
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Is it possible that a language's number system is inherently wrong?

I don't think a number system can be inherently wrong any more than gravity can be wrong; but a system can be confusing from a historical perspective. Numbers seems to be highly subject to reanalyses. ...
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10 votes
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Two and Three; Four and Five; Six and Seven are paired by their first letters T, F, S

These words show no signs of sharing a common suffix, let alone one that we can identify as meaning "add one." Actually, there is another explanation often used for this kind of thing: sound changes ...
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10 votes

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

The following theories that try to explain the origin of Proto-Indo-European numerals are mentioned in J. P. Mallory, D. Q. Adams, The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-...
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9 votes

Is it possible that a language's number system is inherently wrong?

There are examples like this, and we all use that example every day. Look how Arabic digits look like, compared to Devanagari, Gujarati, and other Indic scripts. "૫ ૬ ૭ ૮" are "5 6 7 8" ...
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9 votes

Do any languages mention the top limit of a range first?

There are, presumably in all languages, situations where the top limit is mentioned first. For example, we may talk about "between 10 and 20 metres below sea level". So this seems to be primarily a ...
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9 votes
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Why is six and seven so similar in many languages?

Indeed, as has been pointed out in the comments, the reason these words look alike is because most of those languages are related, descended from a common ancestor. Languages change over time, and ...
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8 votes
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Is there any language with number system that uses subtraction? (Other than Ainu)

It's somewhat curious that both the Roman calendar and the Roman numerals used subtraction quite extensively; for neither is there any modern equivalent. For example, even the Advent sundays (which ...
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7 votes

What kind of a word class are numbers?

It depends on your ideology of word class, and probably on the language (depending on your ideology of word class). In a number of Bantu languages, they constitute an autonomous word class. They have ...
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7 votes

How did Proto-Indo-European *septm evolve into English "seven"?

The excellent German etymological dictionary by Pfeiffer has this: sieben Num. Ahd. sibun (8. Jh.), mhd. siben (md. siven), asächs. siҍun, mnd. sēven, sȫven, mnl. sēven, nl. zeven, aengl. seofon, ...
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7 votes
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Language for which there is no suppletion for : first-one, premier-un. And the Hebrew case

According to Barbiers (2007: 'Indefinite numerals one and many and the cause of ordinal suppletion', Lingua 117), suppletion between the cardinal and ordinal numerals of 1 is frequent, and he gives an ...
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  • 3,075
6 votes

Which modern, spoken languages do not use the decimal number system?

In some nowadays Indo-European languages you can still see rests of base-20 numeral systems. For example in France French: Number — French spelling — English translation — Expansion (where possible) ...
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  • 377
5 votes

How are numerals written in Arabic?

No, he will write the digits from left to right (the opposite of the direction of writing words) as: 123 or ۱۲۳.
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4 votes

Which modern, spoken languages do not use the decimal number system?

Some certain New Guinea languages use base-4: Rawo, Nafri, Vanimo, Bukiyip (which has base-3 and base-4, depending on what is being counted) and, in Papua New Guinea, Wiru and Kewa, along with others....
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4 votes

Why do different languages have different amounts of unique words for numbers between 10 and 20?

In Chinese number names, and both Korean number systems, the numbers follow strict base 10 representations: the name for any number from 11-19 is the name for 10 plus the name for the unit value. e.g....
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4 votes
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Was 1 considered a number under older meanings of number?

I agree that “a number of friends” means “two or more friends”, though one could be pedantic and insist that “one” and “zero” are also numbers. As a matter of fact, the bible of ancient and mediaeval ...
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4 votes

Two and Three; Four and Five; Six and Seven are paired by their first letters T, F, S

In PIE: du̯oe̯ = two trei̯es = three q̆etu̯ores = four (derived from q̆et- "fit together") penq̆e - five su̯ecstis = six septm = seven
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  • 6,251
4 votes

Languages where numbers are read out in a mixed-up fashion

Arabic: 1984 could be read as "one thousand and nine hundred and four and eighty" (the modern reading) or "four and eighty and nine hundred and one thousand" (traditional). I have heard the latter ...
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  • 427
4 votes

Do any languages mention the top limit of a range first?

In Japanese, you often have this construct as well. An example is "100分の1is" one of 100 parts (lit: 100 parts and 1) for fractions. You tend to bound problem as well when you are speaking in regard ...
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  • 141
4 votes

Order of spoken numbers with respect to powers of the base of the numerical system

An example of how the spoken numerals influenced the way they were written numerically is the Slavic languages and their Cyrillic alphabet. Since Cyrillic is derived from the Greek alphabet, it also ...
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4 votes
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Lingustics Problem about Breton Number System

The data which is the base for the problem (plus experience with many other languages) tells you that big numbers are often combinations like "five tens" i.e. 5x10. The similarity in form ...
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  • 68.7k
3 votes

Two and Three; Four and Five; Six and Seven are paired by their first letters T, F, S

Urdu/Hindi/Hindustani have no such pairings: Aik Du Teen Char Panch Chay Sath Aath Nau Dass English names of these numbers just happen to have same starting alphabet but the pronunciation is clearly ...
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  • 111
3 votes

Are there any languages where numbers have cases?

Yes, there are. Finnish is one of such languages and especially interesting in that in complex numbers, all individual numerals are declined: Matkust-i-n kolme-en maa-han. travel-IPF-1SG ...
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  • 6,120
3 votes

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

The easier part first: Using Janko Gorenc's collection of numbers, I was able to find that the Indonesian and Malay word for 14 is empatbelas or empat belas (empat on its own means 4), and the Maltese ...
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3 votes
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Do all cultures allow for 1 to 1 swapping of decimal numerals?

No, you can't. Chinese/Japanese: 50: 五十 1: 一 51: 五十一 100: 百 1000: 千 10000: 万 EDIT: In response to a request for further explanation... Note that '50' is represented by two characters, and '1' ...
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3 votes

What kind of a word class are numbers?

It seems in English, numbers can be adjectives, determiners, and nouns. (Though I feel the nouns are really just adjectives that have an implied noun.) Types of numbers Ordinals: first, second... ...
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3 votes

Pahlavi and Parthian numerals

They are related scripts historically used for related languages, which also used other writing systems. Both used the levantine number system, described in detail in the fantastic book/thesis by ...
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3 votes

Word for eighteen expressed as Twenty Minus Two

Ainu is one of those: (http://www.sf.airnet.ne.jp/ts/language/number/ainu.html) 1 sinep 1 obj. 2 tup 2 obj. 3 rep 3 obj. 4 inep 4 obj. 5 asiknep 5 obj. ...
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  • 1,235
3 votes

Which modern, spoken languages do not use the decimal number system?

By "modern" do you mean a language that's still spoken by living people nowadays? The most unusual modern example is the Telefol and Oksapmin languages, which use a base-27 counting system ...
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