15 votes
Accepted

Why did Japanese borrow words for simple numbers from Chinese?

Besides prestige reasons, there is also the fact that the Old Japanese numeral systems can be seen as inconvenient, especially for higher numbers. Disadvantages compared to the Chinese system are: ...
Dodezv's user avatar
  • 401
12 votes

Why did Japanese borrow words for simple numbers from Chinese?

The reason is similar to the reason why English has borrowed (French) words for beef, pork, mutton even though there are Germanic words for cows, swine and sheep. There is a tendency to borrow words ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
5 votes

Why did Japanese borrow words for simple numbers from Chinese?

They are pronounced that way, before the importing of the Chinese characters, and even to this day: ひとつ、ふたつ、みっつ、よっつ、いつつ、むっつ、ななつ、やっつ、ここのつ、とお. There even is the shortened way of counting: ひ、ふ、み、よ、い、む、な、...
Jimmy's user avatar
  • 159
5 votes

The first multi-syllabic positive integer

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 ...
jogloran's user avatar
  • 5,144
4 votes

Why do languages seem to lose the dual number in particular?

I agree with the other answer but want to add two things. First, this is part of Greenberg's universal 34: No language has a trial number unless it has a dual. No language has a dual unless it has a ...
Keelan's user avatar
  • 4,214
3 votes

Why did Japanese borrow words for simple numbers from Chinese?

It's not only Chinese numerals that were imported to Japanese, but also Chinese counter suffixes (these are akin to units and are specific to the category of object being counted). Now how could ...
tobi_s's user avatar
  • 131
3 votes

Why do languages seem to lose the dual number in particular?

It's simply less salient than the others. If you're going to reduce your stock of numbers from three to two, you'll end up talking about one thing or many things more often than you talk about two ...
Draconis's user avatar
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3 votes
Accepted

How it is that Proto-Finno-Ugric had the word meaning 100 (a borrowing from Indo-Iranian), but not the word for 10?

Your premise about necessary relations for number terms is in error. There is no word in English for 987, but there is a word for 1000. The number "100" is not a "basic word", nor ...
user6726's user avatar
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