Names of numbers

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Määränpää, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Määränpää

    Määränpää Senior Member


    I got inspired by the name of letters thread and wanted to ask if your languages have names for numbers and how you use them.

    EDIT: The only thread about this subject concerns Slavic languages. What about the non-Slavic ones?

    In Finnish, numbers from 1 to 10 do have half-informal names:

    For example, the number 5 is "viisi" (five words = viisi sanaa) and the ordinal number 5th is "viides" (the fifth word = viides sana).

    The name of the number 5 can be "viitonen" or "vitonen" depending on the speaker. When an English-speaker says "number five", a Finn often uses one of these. Some even use the Swedish word "femma".

    I would use "vitonen" to refer to a banknote, a bus, a grade, a floor, a movie sequel and probably many other things.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  2. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Yes, we have "that phenomenon" in Hungarian well. None of Romance languages has got it, German either, but Scandinavian languages know it as well.
    I am really unsure about other "exotic" languages.

    In Hungarian if you count you say: egy, kettő, három, négy, öt, hat, hét, nyol, kilenc, tíz.... (1-10)
    But the names of numbers or things marked by that number are: egyes, kettes, hármas, négyes, ötös, hatos, hetes, nyolcas, kilences, tizes.... It works just like in Slavic languages...
  3. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    In Tagalog the standard terms for numbers are 1.) Isa (one) 2.) Dalawa (two) 3.) Tatlo (three) 4.) Apat (four) 5.) Lima (five) 6.) Anim (six) 7.) Pitoh (seven) 8.) Waloh(eight) 9.) Siyam (nine) and 10.)Sampu' (ten). I cannot explain why in some grammars when there is only one object or it is only one, they use " Mutya"/ Natatangi, when 2 they use tambalan(pair) or kambal (twin) in case of three , the word "tungko" can be used and the rest are the same the name of number.
  4. arielipi Senior Member

    As in letters, i think i dont understand the question, how could you not have "names" for numbers? Just like you say one for 1 two for 2 etc, those are names... could you explain more please?
  5. Määränpää

    Määränpää Senior Member

    First, we make a distinction between countable amounts and number signs.

    countable amounts
    four Romans (four people from Rome) = neljä roomalaista

    number signs (names of numbers)
    a Roman 'four' (the symbol 'IV') = roomalainen nelonen

    Then, we sometimes take the name of a number sign and use it to refer to a thing that carries that number sign. Buses seem to be a typical example.
  6. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Very interesting you have it in Finnish as well, maybe some Swede influence? I wonder how about other Ugro-Finnic languages. :D And why don't you use "name" for bigger numbers than 10? Is it grammatically not possible? Don't you call e.g. banknotes using those words as well?
  7. AutumnOwl

    AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Swedish - Sweden, Finnish
    In Swedish a 20 kronor banknote is a tjuga (20 = tjugo) and a 100 kronor banknote en hundring (100 = hundra), and 1 000 kronor en tusing (1 000 = tusen).
  8. Määränpää

    Määränpää Senior Member

    The ones from 11 to 19 are not used by all, and the ones from 20 to 99 are combinations of smaller numbers. The ones from 100 to 999 are combinations of smaller numbers as well, sometimes including the number sata (100) or the noun satanen.

    I wish I spoke some Sami languages or at least Estonian!
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  9. arielipi Senior Member

    from 0 to 10 each have their own name, then for 11-19 we say much like english only reversed one-ten, two-ten(eleven. twelve) and from then on combination of smaller parts.
    every ten is said original number+im, shloshim(30), shalosh(3), esrim(20), shtaim(2), arbaim(40), arba(4) etc.
  10. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    As far as I can recall, the only examples in English where the actual word is modified involve money (and therefore they vary by country):

    fiver "five pound banknote / coin / other unit"
    tenner "ten pound banknote / coin / etc."

    toonie "two-dollar coin"

    I think toonie was created on the model of loonie "one dollar coin", which is called that because the loon (bird) appears on the coin.

    Outside of these cases, I think English-speakers tend to say either

    - a one
    , a twenty, etc. (= a one/twenty-dollar bill, etc.)
    - number one, number twenty, etc. -- e.g., I might say "I live in number 20" if I live in the 20th apartment of a building.
    - In a familiar context, we can omit the word number and just say, one, twenty etc. (e.g., "I live in 20")

    If there's a zero in a number, then it can be pronounced as "oh" when you're talking about a name/index rather than an actual quantity: thus, "I live in two-oh" (stressed on the syllable "oh"), rather than "I live in twenty". In some contexts, the "oh" pronunciation serves to differentiate between a name/index and a quantity: e.g., if you say, "room 501" or "form 603", you generally pronounce the numbers as "five-oh-one" and "six-oh-three" rather than "five-hundred-one" or "six-hundred-three".
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  11. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    As for the English langauge very inetersting examples who would think it exists there as well.
  12. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    In Arabic: number 1 one is "واحد waaħed" but in some cases it becomes "أحد aħad" (feminine: "إحدى eħda")

    These cases are always in masculine form:
    Sunday(the one) = الأحد (al-aħad)
    someone = أحد (aħad)
    anyone = أي أحد (ayy aħad)
    no one = لا أحد (laa aħad)

    These two cases can be masculine or feminine:

    one of [group of people] = أحد (aħad) [one of the boys = aħadu al-awlaadi] - [one of the girls = eħda al-banati]

    eleven(one-ten) = أحد عشر (aħada ʕashara) [11 boys = aħada ʕashara waladan] - [11 girls = eħda ʕasharata bentan]
  13. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    There are a few special names for numbers in Portuguese in the context of card games (e.g. quina for cinco, five), but I wouldn't be able to list all of them. In telephone numbers Brazilians often say meia instead of seis for six. Meia probably derives from meia dúzia (half a dozen), and may have been introduced to avoid confusion with sete (seven) over the phone.
  14. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    In Chinese,

    In general, if it's a ordinal number, add 第(pronounced di4) before the number.
    E.g. 一片 "one piece"; 一片 "the 1st piece".

    For the number names:

    1. The most troublesome one. Written as 一, tone depends. If it's numeral, then pronounced yi1; if it's a number, tone depends on the next syllable's tone. Either yi2 or yi4.
    When reading a series of number, pronounces yao1.
    A traditional version of the character is often used when it is to record money formally. Written as 壹.

    2. Also troublesome. Written as 二. Pronounced er4. However, if it's a number followed by a noun, we use 两. Pronounces liang3.
    The traditional version to record money: 贰.

    3. 三, pronounced san1. The traditional version to record money: 叁.

    4. 四, pronounced si4. The traditional version to record money: 肆.

    5. 五, pronounced wu3. The traditional version to record money: 伍.

    6. 六, pronounced liu3. The traditional version to record money: 陸.

    7. 七, pronounced qi1. The traditional version to record money: 柒.

    8. 八, pronounced ba1. The traditional version to record money: 捌.

    9. 九, pronounced jiu3. The traditional version to record money: 玖.

    10. 十, pronounced shi2. The traditional version to record money: 拾.
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  15. Holger2014 Senior Member

    This is quite similar to German: adding the suffix -er to a cardinal number turns it into a noun:
    ein Fünfer = a fiver, a five Euro banknote, a number five bus, ...
    ein Zehner = a tenner, a ten Euro banknote, a number ten bus, ...

    In Estonian the suffix -kas can be added to the genitive stem of the cardinal number:
    a fiver = viiekas < viis = five, viie = genitive + -kas
    a tenner = kümnekas < kümme = ten, kümne = genitive + -kas

  16. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    ...and how about adding 号? like 五号...

    Moi Holger, do you mean you can say: Einer, Zweier, Dreier, Vierer...oder is there only Fünfer & Zehner?
  17. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    号 in 五号 is used like "No." or "#" in English.
    "No.5 player" = 五号运动员/五号选手
    "#2 pencil" = 2号铅笔
    "Size #38" = 38号

    But for "the fifth", "the second", we put 第 before the numbers.
  18. Holger2014 Senior Member

    Yes, -er can be added to all other numbers as well, turning them into masculine nouns: tausend ('one thousand') > ein Tausender = 'a thousand Euro banknote', for instance; or zwanzig ('twenty') > ein Zwanziger ('a twenty-Euro banknote', staying realistic).

    I forgot another option: bus numbers or school marks/grades are often turned into feminine nouns without adding a suffix: fünf ('five') > eine Fünf ('a number five bus', or a 'five' at school, remembering those maths exams...) --> Grading systems in other countries
    Last edited: May 12, 2015

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