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Re: The Sand Reckoner in Your ‘Langs

From:Roger Mills <romiltz@...>
Date:Sunday, April 5, 2009, 22:40
Eldin Raigmore wrote:

> Questions: > How do you name very-large numbers in your conlangs and > natlangs?
Bear in mind I'm a linguist, not a mathematician..... Gwr. Originally Base-8, with digits 0-7 with place-notation like ours; "10" maq-hi = of course dec-8. maq-hi had a homonym (or derivation) maq-m, which meant 'huge, vast', which came be be used in math as "squared/to the power of...". Thus octal 100 was ma-h maq-mi (i.e. ten + squared) 1000 was chih-h, 10,000 maq-h chih-h (literal), 100,000 was ma-maq chih-h (literal). 1,000,000 was chih maq-m (1000^2). Higher numbers are not attested from the octal period, which ended official around 1500 years ago, when the Gwr adopted the decimal system to simplify trade/bookkeeping. "Eight" and "nine" were borrowed from Kash, also loq-m '100' < Kash rongo, but it has not entirely replaced ma-maq, though that, like maq-h and chih, now refers to a decimal quantity. Million is still chih maq-m (1000^2), and things proceed on up as multiples of 1000 -- chih maq hr (1000^3 = 10^9), chih maq kong (1000^4 = 10^12), chih maq dzi (l000^5 = 10^15) and so on as needed. Kash. Always a decimal system, familiar decimal notation. Individual words for 10 (me/pola < mes '1' + fola '10s'), 100 (rongo ['roNgo], 1000 amba. The 1000s proceed as 10/100 + thousand, as in Engl. Million is ambraka (big thousand), also 10/100 +million. Billion (1000 millions) is pambraka, a contraction of amba ambraka 'thousand million'. For trillion 10^12, quadrillion 10^15, quintillion 10^18 they have borrowed Gwr terms-- cimakoñ, cimanji, cimaho (1000^6). (Note to self: revise-- they ought to have final stress) Still higher quantities are expressed as powers of 10--Kash math has borrowed Gwr maq-m, and combined it with Kash -tu 'reflexive marker' to form matu 'squared/times itself'; thus mepola matu is 'ten squared', 10^N would be "mepola matu N" ( I don't know how they indicate "N"...) In popular usage, cima-cima or praka-praka equate to our "jillion" or "gazillion". Prevli will have to wait for another time.