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On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 10:07:55PM -0700, H. S. Teoh wrote:
[...]
> 	tse na       ti'   jirabunas ta?
> 	2SG RCP:MASC notch how_many  Q
> 	How old are you? (Lit. to you how many notches?)
[...]

I forgot to point out the etymology of _jirabunas_: it is a contraction
of _jiras bunas di'as_ "one two three". It's like asking "you have one,
two, or three notches?" (with an implied "etc." after "three" --
induction, y'know). Well technically, it's _jiras ta bunas ta di'as ta_
(the construction _X ta Y ta_ meaning "X or Y"), which simplified to
_jiras bunas di'as_ > _jirabunari'as_ > _jirabunas_, through a process
of successive simplification via contraction and elision.

TF numerals are agglutinative, you see; "eight", for example, is
_di'apikas_, from _di'as_ (3) + _pikas_ (5). However, these
agglutinations are only valid between numerals of a group belonging to a
different power of 5: 1-4 are the first group, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 are the
second group, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125 are the third group, etc., up to 5
groups (with 3125 being the largest root, thus a maximum nameable
numeral of 3905). The agglutination _jirabunari'as_ is therefore an
invalid numeral, so the contraction _jirabunas_ does not conflict with
any numeral, and can safely stand in for the interrogative numeral. :)

(Kids on the street have been heard simplifying this even further to
_jiabunas_ or _jabunas_ (or *shudder* _jabun_), but this is frowned on
by the older folk and isn't part of the official TF dictionary published
by the town grammarians.)


T

-- 
Stop staring at me like that! You'll offend... no, you'll hurt your eyes!