# 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.