## CONLANG@LISTSERV.BROWN.EDU

#### View:

 Message: [ First | Previous | Next | Last ] By Topic: [ First | Previous | Next | Last ] By Author: [ First | Previous | Next | Last ] Font: Proportional Font

Subject:

Re: numbers systems from conlangs

From:

Date:

Fri, 12 Sep 2003 12:06:14 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

 text/plain (184 lines)
 ```Well, I thought Ebisedian's numbering system is interesting enough (*cough*cough*), and there are enough new people on the list, that I should perhaps post a brief description of it here. Ebisedian's numbering system is based on the concept of counting by chunks rather than by individual objects. Each chunk is called a "triad", and corresponds with a power of 3. A number is specified as a sum of multiples of chunks. Because the elementary numbers range from 0 to 9, there are often multiple ways of saying the same number. There are two sets of elementary number words in Ebisedian: 1) The quantitative numbers. These numbers denote the actual quantity being referred to, and hence are inflected for nominal number (nullar, singular, plural). 2) The qualitative numbers. These numbers denote the mathematical entity corresponding to the number being referred to; hence, they are usually used in the singular number. They may be used in the plural, say, when you count how many 3's are in the number 13331; they may be used in the nullar to indicate the absence of the digit 4 in 12356, etc.. The elementary numbers in Ebisedian are shown in their quantitative and qualitative forms in the table below. The square brackets [] show the IPA pronunciation of these words. Value Quantitative Qualitative 0 y'i ["?y?i] ivei' [?iB&"?i] 1 kei' [k_h&"?i] ikei' [?ik&"?i] 2 3jei' [?@\dZ&"?i] ijei' [?idZ&"?i] 3 3rei' [?@\r`&"?i] irei' [?ir`&"?i] 4 3dei' [?@\d&"?i] idei' [?id&"?i] 5 3Pei' [?@\p_h&"?i] iPei' [?ip_h&"?i] 6 3sei' [?@\s&"?i] isei' [?is&"?i] 7 3Tei' [?@\t_h"?i] iTei' [?it_h&"?i] 8 3Cei' [?@\tS_h"?i] iCei' [?itS_h"?i] 9 3Kee'i [?@\"k_h&:?i] iKee'i [?i"k_h&:?i] The first few triads and their values are as follows (again, the square brackets [] give the IPA pronunciation guide): Value Triad 3 kekrei' [k&kr&"?i] 9 jekrei' [dZ&kr&"?i] 27 rekrei' [r`&kr&"?i] 81 dekrei' [d&kr&"?i] 243 Pekrei' [p_h&kr&"?i] 729 sekrei' [s&kr&"?i] ... etc. The triads are combined with the elementary numbers to form multiples. For example: kekrekei' = kekre[i'] + kei'           = 3 * 1           = 3 3kekrejei' = kekre[i'] + jei'            = 3 * 2            = 6 (Note the /3/ plural prefix here. It is absent in _kekrekei'_ because it means "one chunk" as opposed to "two chunkS".) 3kekrerei' = kekre[i'] + rei'            = 3 * 3            = 9 jekrekei' = jekre[i'] + kei'            = 9 * 1            = 9 Notice that _3kekrerei'_ has the same numerical value as _jekrekei'_. However, one is a plural noun (it means 3 groups of 3), whereas the other is a singular noun (meaning 1 group of 9). Note that the suffix -kei' can usually be dropped, so that _kekrei'_ is the same as _kekrekei'_. This is naturally useful for pronouncing otherwise cumbersome and confusing number words. Numbers can also be added using the additive infix /3/. For example: 3je3kekrei' = je[i'] + -3- + kekrei'             = 2 + 3             = 5 3ke3jekrei' = ke[i'] + -3- + jekrei'             = 1 + 9             = 10 3de3kekrejei' = de[i'] + -3- + kekre[i'] + jei'               = 4 + 3 * 2               = 4 + 6               = 10 3Te3kekrei' = Te[i'] + -3- + kekrei'             = 7 + 3             = 10 Notice that we have 3 different ways of saying ten here. It could be a group of 9 plus one (3ke3jekrei'), or two groups of 3 plus four (3de3kekrejei'), or a group of 3 with 7 extra members (3Te3kekrei'). Also note that our first example, _3je3kekrei'_, is numerically identical to _3Pei'_, "five". Now, this number system may seem rather cumbersome and difficult to deal with; but it is important to understand that the Ebisedi usually deal with *approximate* numbers rather than precise numbers. The additive numbers are there for the mathematicians and accountants who deal with exact figures; but the common layperson use the triads in an approximate sense. That is to say, other than the elementary numbers (0-9) which are always precise, the triads are *approximate* numbers. It is just like how we say "two dozen" in English, which may mean precisely 24, or it may be anywhere from 22 to 26 or thereabouts. So, although the correct way of saying ten is one of the above forms (plus a few others, for those mathematicians among you), most lay people would say _3kekredei'_, i.e., "two bunches" or "two hands", as the number of fingers they have. Or if they are dividing ten eggs between three people, they'd say _3kekrerei'_. Or even _3kekredei'_ if they're dividing ten between 4 people. If you ask them how many fingers and toes they have in total, they might say _3kekredei'_ (note the difference with the previous instance, which means 10 rather than 20) or _3jekrejei'_ (if they consider hands and feet by pairs). You might point out that there's a big discrepancy between the "true" value of _3kekredei'_, which is 12, and _3jekrejei'_, which is 18. But that is precisely the point: the triads are *approximate* values, not exact values, except in a mathematical context. In a similar vein, when reading an Ebisedian passage that talks about _3mangosekrei'_, (_mang[i']_ ("horse") + _sekrei'_), it might be tempting to translate it into English as "729 horses". However, a better translation might be "about 700 horses", since _sekrei'_ is likely an approximation, unless the context indicates that we're dealing with precise numbers. This imprecision may appear to be rather awkward; but it is usually best to think of the triads as the equivalent of the English "bunch", "dozen", "score", etc.. You keep a bunch (kekrei') of dogs in your backyard; the hen lays a dozen (jekrei') eggs; there are several (rekrei') houses on your street; there are numerous (dekrei') houses on the block; the number of cars owned by people on the block is roughly 250 (Pekrei'); a millipede supposedly has 1000 (sekrei') legs;[1] etc.. [1] In this case, Ebisedian is more accurate than English, as millipedes really only have around 600-700 legs at most, not the 1000 as is commonly believed; _sekrei'_ is around 700. As a closing word, the Ebisedi do not, contrary to popular belief, have strange numbers of fingers and toes. When they say they have _kekrejei'_ fingers, it does NOT mean they only have 3 fingers on a hand. They are just saying they have two "handfuls" (_kekrei'_) of fingers. Only the mathematicians and accountants among them bother to say that they have precisely (3de3kekrejei') fingers. Or, as a high-school Bisedi would say, _3tagokeojekrei'_.[2] [2] Why high-school? 'cos that's when they learn to count using only the first 3 elementary numbers, like this:         y'i 0         kei' 1         3jei' 2         kekrei' 3         keokekrei' 4         jeokekrei' 5         kekrejei' 6         keokekrejei' 7         jeokekrejei' 8         jekrei' 9         keojekrei' 10         ... And why only high-school? 'cos keojekrei' literally means "1 plus 3 bunches", which is a rather odd answer for "how many fingers do you have", since it implies that you have 3 hands (with 3 fingers on each) plus another loose finger elsewhere. T -- I'm still trying to find a pun for "punishment"... ```