# Asking the Value of Ordinal Numbers / whichth? / how manyeth?

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Flaminius, Mar 10, 2007.

1. ### Flaminiuscoclea mod

capita Iaponiae
日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
Dear Forum,

I wonder how languages you know ask the value of ordinal numbers. In other words, how do they demand the hearer the value for "nth" as in, "Bill Clinton is the nth president of USA"?

Japanese can use a direct Wh-question to elicit the answer for the above question.

ビル・クリントンは何番目のアメリカ合衆国大統領ですか。
Bill Clinton-wa nam-bamme-no Amerika Gasshūoku Daitōryō desu-ka.
BC-TOPIC Wh-ordinalPosition-GEN USA president copula-Question.

42番目の大統領です。
42 bamme-no daitōryō desu.
42 ordinalPosition-GEN president copula.
[He] is the 42nd president.

In short, X-bamme-no (of Xth position) can take the Wh-morpheme and yield nam-bamme-no (of Whth position).

Mandarin and Turkish can use a Wh-question if I remember correctly.

In contrast, many languages such as English, French and Italian seem to be unable to make a Wh-question to ask directly an ordinal number. What constructions do those languages use in order to elicit the answer, "BC is the 42nd president"?

2. ### OutsiderSenior Member

Portuguese (Portugal)
I supposed you are asking whether there is a way to ask "Is X the n-th president of the United States?", or perhaps "Who is the n-th president of the United States?"

As you can see, it can be done in English.

3. ### Flaminiuscoclea mod

capita Iaponiae
日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
The answer I'd like to get in the shortest form is, "the 42nd one" not "Bill Clinton."

The Japanese sentence for your "Who is the n-th president of the United States?" is;
誰が42番目の大統領ですか。
dare-ga 42-bamme-no daitōryō desu-ka.
Who-NOM 42-ordinalPlace-GEN president copula-Q

4. ### Frank06Senior Member

Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
Hi,
In Dutch:
- De hoeveelste president van de VS is Bill Clinton?
The 'how-many-th' president of the VS is BC.
- We can reverse the order:
BC is de hoeveelste president van de VS?

But that doesn't change the phrase 'article + WH- card. numb. + noun'

Groetjes,

Frank

5. ### DrWatsonSenior Member

This type of question is possible in Finnish:

Q: Monesko Yhdysvaltain presidentti on Bill Clinton? (= *How-many-th president of the United States is BC?)
A: Hän on 42. presidentti. (= He is the 42nd president)

And I think this can be done in German, too:

Q: Der wievielste Präsident der vereinigten Staaten ist BC?
A: Er ist der 42. Präsident.

6. ### jonquiliserSenior Member

Svediż tal-Finlandja
Swedish also has a form of 'many' that elicits the answer "the n-th": "hur mångte..?" *(ex: hur mångte gånger är det du hör det? - how manyeth time is it you hear that?) In the case of the president, however, this would be a little weird to use that, you would say "vilken president i ordningen är BC?", i.e. (lit.) "which president in the order is BC?"

It seems that "mångte" in any case is a finlandism (a word used in the Swedish spoken in Finland).

7. ### IlmoMember Emeritus

In Finnish we have a very handy word "monesko", that means exactly "how-many-th". You can also say "kuinka mones"; it has the same meaning.

Monesko Amerikan presidentti Bill Clinton on?
Hän on neljäskymmenestoinen presidentti.

In order to avoid rather long and complicated written ordinal numbers, we usuallly mark in text by putting a period after the number; this changes the cardinal number to an ordinal one.
Tus:

Hän on (Amerikan) 42. presidentti.

In order to avoid confusion, the ordinal number should not be the last "word" in a sentence! Nobody could understand correctly two consecutive periods.

8. ### KrümelmonsterSenior Member

Germany, german
In German it's similar to the Dutch version, you would ask "Der wievielte Präsident der USA ist Bill Clinton?"
or reversed: "Bill Clinton ist der wievielte Präsident der USA?
(As Frank06 translated: The 'how-many-th' president of the US is BC?)

9. ### WhodunitSenior Member

กรุงเทพมหานคร
Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
I think it works in colloquial French, but a native speaker should prove it:

Bill Clinton est le combientième président des États-Unis ?

If you can understand some Chinese, of which I'm sure you can, Flaminius, you might like this topic.

10. ### jester.Senior Member

Aachen, Germany
Germany -> German
It certainly is:

11. ### OutsiderSenior Member

Portuguese (Portugal)
I think you would need to resort to some kind of periphrasis, such as "Which position did Bill Clinton hold in the line (list?) of American presidents?"

The same for Portuguese.

12. ### Marga HSenior Member

Poland,Polish
Similar in Polish: Który z kolei?...which in the line..

13. ### ChazzwozzerSenior Member

Istanbul
Turkish
As I've heard, it would be probably asked as "What number president was Bill Clinton?"

Turkish:
Kaçıncı?

Bill Clinton kaçıncı başkandı?

14. ### QcumberSenior Member

UK English
Tagalog (Philippines) can say it:
Ika-iláng pangúlo si George Bush?

ika- = turns a cardinal number into an ordinal one
ilán = how much / how many
> iláng = ditto + linker
si = nominal marker for in-focus person's names

15. ### QcumberSenior Member

UK English
Sounds good. Perhaps some would make it a partitive.
B. C. est le combientième des présidents des E.U.?

16. ### awanziSenior Member

Gent - Oost-vlaanderen
Italy, Italian
In Italian I think you can't ask directly. You have to use a complete sentence. "Quantotanto" doesn't exist...

Nell'ordine, BC quale presidente è?
(In the order, is BC which president?)

I can't think of a better one!

17. ### StefKESenior Member

Brussels
French - Belgium
I'm afraid I do disagree with this!

Le combientième may sound good but it is wrong although I must say many french-speakers do the mistake too.

The right way to say it is: Le quantième président des Etats-Unis Bill Clinton était-il? OR Bill Clinton était le quantième président des Etats-Unis.

I've just looked it up in the dictionary. They say it exists but is familiar and incorrect. ("Incorrect use for combien, le quantième")

18. ### LugubertSenior Member

Should I for some obscure reason be interested, I would probably ask, Vilken president i ordningen är X?, like 'Which president, in order, is X', which would elicit an answer using a (perhaps) appropriate ordinal number Jag gissar att han är den fyrtioandre 'I guess he's the 42th (one)'. People away from our west coast, who have lost the gender distinction, will probably tell you Jag gissar att han är den fyrtioandra.

19. ### jazykSenior Member

Brno, Česká republika
Brazílie, portugalština
That's something I've always wondered myself and I don't think there's a succint way to express it in Portuguese. I'd do it as Outsider suggested.

20. ### QcumberSenior Member

UK English
Sounds very very very odd to me.

21. ### Frank06Senior Member

Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
Hi,
"(le/la) combientième" gives 10,000+ hits on google, and you say they are all wrong??
And you say so because you looked it up in a dictionary? And then you say it's familiar and (hence?) incorrect?
Does this imply that you speak unfamiliar but correct French?

Groetjes,

Frank

22. ### Flaminiuscoclea mod

capita Iaponiae
日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
This may be equally uninteresting, but what kind of question elicits the following answer?

Little Fiery Dictionary finished in the Xth place in the Derby.

I am just wondering how productive this Vilken __ ordningen construction is.

23. ### LugubertSenior Member

^
I'm all for variation, so I'd just ask, Vilken plats kom LFD på? 'at which place did LFD end up?', happily disregarding any Strunk pseudo-rules in English requiring no sentence-ending prepositions.

24. ### kusurijaSenior Member

Lithuania, K. city
Lithuania Czech
In Czech it's similar to the Dutch version, you would ask "Kolikátý president USA je Bill Clinton?"
or reversed: "Bill Clinton je kolikátý(kolikátým) president(-em) USA/Spojených států Amerických?
Answ.: BC je 42. [čtyřicátý druhý] president USA.
(As Frank06 translated: The 'how-many-th' president of the US is BC?)

In Lituanian it's also similar:
Q: "Kelintas JAV presidentas yra Bilas Klintonas?"
A: BK yra 42[keturiasdešimt antrasis] JAV presidentas.

ご機嫌よう, Flaminius!

25. ### Erebos12345Senior Member

Ordinals in Chinese come in the form of [第(di4)][number][counter][noun]. The noun can be excluded.

-第三杯水 [di4 san1 bei1 shui3] The third cup of water
-
第一封信 [di4 yi1 feng1 xin4] The first letter (mail) [You'll actually hear 一 pronounced as yi4 instead in this case]
-第二首歌 [di4 er4 shou3 ge1] The second song
-第四十二名总统 [di4 si4 shi2 er4 ming2 zong3 tong3] The 42nd president. (I think the correct counter is 名 in this case but for some reason, 位 sounds a bit better...and 总 would often be pronounced as zong2 in this type of situation)

To ask which ordinal, just substitute the number with 几(ji3).
-第几首歌? etc.

So...here's my sad attempt at a translation:

比尔克林顿是美国的第几名总统？
bi3 er3 ke4 lin2 dun4 shi4 mei3 guo2 de...etc.

And as a side note, to my recollection, Chinese media usually only addressed him by his last name 克林顿.

^^任 (ren4) may be the best counter. I'm still not quite sure. =/

Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2017
26. ### NanonSenior Member

Entre Paris et Lisbonne
français (France)
About Stefke's suggestion (quantième), see the corresponding CNRTL entry here.

It implies that "quantième" is a dated form when used as interrogative, so Stefke was speaking correct French after all. Both of you are right somehow (oh my God, here I am settling linguistic conflicts between Belgians !!!).
"Quantième" is not dated when used as a noun, and not as interrogative, meaning the "xx" day of the month ("le quantième du mois") in administrative, financial, legalese... contexts.
To be honest, I must say that "combientième" has no entry at all in CNRTL.

I do insist that most of French speakers living in France, and probably in Belgium too (to be confirmed) would say "combientième", or get around the problem by saying "numéro combien" (literally "number how much"). A (colloquial, spoken) example would be "Clinton, c'est le président des États-Unis numéro combien ?"

Here is a related topic from another forum (in French).

Last edited: Jul 26, 2008
27. ### NizoSenior Member

It can be done in Esperanto: Bill Clinton estas la kioma prezidento de Usono?

28. ### sakvakaSenior Member

If we Finns want to know someone's placement in a competition, we can ask them Monesko olit? "Moni" means "many", -s is the ordinal number suffix and -ko is a question particle. The word doesn't have an accurate English counterpair, but *how manyeth would come quite close.

Just as every question word, monesko can also be declinated. Monentenako tulit maaliin? lit. "As how manyeth did you cross the finish line?"

Tagalog seems to have such a word, too: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?p=9445347

Is an ordinal question word used in other languages? Thanks in advance!

Castellano s. XX - Spain
In Spanish we would ask: ¿En qué posición/lugar quedaste/llegaste? (In which position/place did you stand/arrive?). But I can't think of anything similar to that Monesko olit?

30. ### ilocas2Senior Member

It's well used in Czech

kolikátý - how manyeth

Kolikátý jsi skončil ? - How manyeth did you finish ?

Since Czech lacks much/many distinction, it could be "how mucheth" as well.

31. ### cyberpedantSenior Member

English USA, Northeast, NYC
I fail to understand what you're getting at. The ending, "th," is either an old form for a third person singular present indicative verb ["doth," for example, instead of "does"] or a suffix that changes an adjective to a noun [warmth, breadth, strength, etc.] It is decidedly not a plural form. What do you expect "manyeth" or "mucheth" to mean?

Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
32. ### jazykSenior Member

Brno, Česká republika
Brazílie, portugalština
Same in Portuguese. Em que/qual posição ficaste/você ficou/chegaste/você chegou?

33. ### ilocas2Senior Member

It's only a parallel, a word-by-word translation. Like sixth - manyeth. Certainly all know that the word "manyeth" is nonsense in English

34. ### rusita preciosaModus forendi

USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
Russian (Moscow)
Russian:
на каком месте /na kakom meste/ - on what place
(colloquial): каким /kakim/ - something like "in what condition/state"
four - fourth
how many - how manyeth

Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2017
35. ### bibaxSenior Member

Czechlands
Czech (Prague)
I should write manieth instead of manyeth .

Latin:

quot? (how many?)
quotus? (how manieth?)

Quota hora est? (What's the time?)
Quotus dies mensis est? (What's the date?)

German:

wieviel? (how many?)
(der) wievielte? (how manieth?)

Der wievielte sind Sie? (How manyith are you?)
Der wievielte ist heute? (What's the date today?)

French:

combien? (how many?)
(le) combientième? (how manyith?)

Le combientième êtes-vous? (How manyith are you?)

Hungarian:

hány? (how many?)

Hányadika van ma? (What's the date today?)

Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
36. ### sakvakaSenior Member

Yes, this is one of the most common uses of the word.

Monesko päivä tänään on? - Viidestoista.

37. ### TjahziSenior Member

Umeå, Sweden
Swedish (Göteborg)
Sadly, Swedish completely lacks such a word. The most common way to say which place one finished at would be Jag kom på femte plats/Jag kom femma - I arrived at fifth place/I came (in as number) five (n.).

When talking about days, a construction identical to the English one would be used.

38. ### bibaxSenior Member

Czechlands
Czech (Prague)
I'll extend the question. What languages you know has the complete set of the correlative (i.e. interrogative, demonstrative, indefinite and negative) pronouns related to the order?

Esperanto has such set for sure.

Czech:

kolikátý? - tolikátý - několikátý - (*nikolikátý)

*nikolikátý is not in use.

All these words are adjectivalia (they distinguish number, gender and case like the adjectives).

German has: (der) wievielte? - (der) sovielte - ...

Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2011
39. ### Frank06Senior Member

Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
Hi,

In Dutch we can use "de hoeveelste", which is pretty common (as in the question "De hoeveelste is het vandaag", word for word: the howmany-eth is it today?).

We also have "de zoveelste", word for word "the so/that many-eth".

Groetjes,

Frank

40. ### Kannan91Member

England
Malayalam
There is a word "എത്രാമത്തെ" (etrāmatte) in Malayalam that I don't think can be expressed in English in any concise way. I suppose the hypothetical English equivalent would be something like *whichth, but as this word doesn't actually exist, we have to come up with circumlocutions like "Where would x come in a (chronological etc.) listing of all y's". So for example, you could say something like:

ജോണ്‍ എത്രാമത്തെ ആങ്ഗലേയ രാജാവായിരുന്നു?
(Jōṇ etrāmatte āṅgalēya rājāvāyirunnu?)

"Whichth English King was John?"

Whereas in English, you'd have to say (and this seems clumsy to me, so feel free to rephrase it more elegantly):
"What would John's position be in a chronological list of English Kings/ in the English regnal list?"

I was wondering how many other languages have an equivalent word.

Last edited: May 2, 2011
41. ### RallinoModeratoúrkos

Turkish
Turkish has it.

Kaç = how many/how much?
Kaçıncı = which place (in a list). (lit. how manyth or maybe whichth, as you said)

Ex:
- Olimpiyatlarda kaçıncı oldu ? - Which place did he get in the olympics? (I'm not sure of the English sentence)
- 2'nci oldu. - He got the 2nd place. (He came the 2nd (?) ).

Another example:

- Biz 5 kardeşiz. (We are 5 siblings. = I have 4 other siblings.)
- Sen kaçıncı çocuksun? (lit. You are how many'th child? It means: "And you are the child number ...?", or maybe I would translate it as, how many other children had already been born before you were?)

I thought this only existed in Turkish!

42. ### ewieSenior Member

Another Country
English English
43. ### er targynSenior Member

My dictionary says it's "in succession". Which in succession... Right?
In Russian: какой по счёту - lit. which on count.

44. ### TjahziSenior Member

Umeå, Sweden
Swedish (Göteborg)
Some languages do indeed have this word, but some don't. Standard Swedish lacks such a word.

45. ### SuperXWSenior Member

Simply speaking, "which-th" / "how many-th" can be easily uttered in Chinese by adding 第(di4) before the number. All the other structures remain the same.
Just the red part you wrote was not right. The tone for 一 in 第一 (the first, no.1) will always be the 1st tone. Unlike in 一杯水 (one cup of water), the tone for 一 is yi4.
Both 名 and 任 are fine here. We can also use 届.
名 is a counter focusing on "the person", and is less formal than 任, a counter focusing on "the sequence of a formal position" or 届, a counter focusing on "the sequence of a regular event (including presidency)".

Last edited: May 9, 2015
46. ### EncolpiusSenior Member

Praha (Prague)
magyar (Hungarian)
Hungarian

But the question was: "ask the value of ordinal numbers"...isn't that: 第几?

Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2017
47. ### SuperXWSenior Member

Exactly. I meant, you can change the cardinal number into an ordinal number by adding 第 in both questions and statements. 几 means "how many" by itself, it becomes "how many-th" by adding 第.

三名总统 = three Presidents
三名总统 = the third President

几名总统
？ = how many Presidents?
几名总统？ = “How many-th” President?

We don't use plural form for 三名总统/几名总统, so the latter parts don't have to change.

Last edited: May 12, 2015
48. ### TreatySenior Member

Persian
In Persian we use čandomīn or čandom, which are made of čand ("how many") + om (the ordinal making suffix) + īn (adjective making suffix):

Obāmā čandomīn ra'īs-[e]-jomhūr-e Āmrikā-st?
Obama how.many.th chief-[of]-republic-of America-is?
or
Obāmā ra'īs-[e]-jomhūr-e čandom-e Āmrikā-st?
Obama chief-[of]-republic-at how.many.th-of America-is?

It is also possible to combine čand questions with larger numbers:

Obāmā čehel-o-čandomīn ra'īs-[e]-jomhūr-e Āmrikā-st?
Obama forty-and-how.many.th chief-[of]-republic-of America-is?