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Re: Historical Sound Change & Numbers Puzzle

From:Joseph Fatula <joefatula@...>
Date:Sunday, March 11, 2007, 8:09
Eric Christopherson wrote:
> On Mar 10, 2007, at 10:32 PM, Alex Fink wrote: >> 30 |bornel| = 21 + 8 + 1: |bor| could be 21, and |nel| is there, but no >> element for 1? Probably just dropped when saying 29 this way fell >> out of >> currency. > > I'd been wondering about this sort of thing - numerals composed of > several morphemes referring to different numbers, where the value of > the compound does not exactly equal the sum (or product, or whatever) > of the components. Does that happen in natlangs? For instance, imagine > a system which starts out using base 8, so 48 is rendered as something > like {six}{eight}; the system would eventually develop into a decimal > system, with the previous word for 48 being used for the (close but > not exact) 50. > > I suppose the original numeral doesn't need to be composed of multiple > morphemes in that way; the discrepancy in meaning in that case would > be between the old meaning and the new. > > >
I don't know if this happens in natlangs, but it wouldn't surprise me. Consider how the word "million" has changed meaning in British English from 1,000,000,000 to 1,000,000. It's not quite the kind of change you're talking about, but it is a situation where the pressure of a new number system caused a word to be reanalyzed.


T. A. McLeay <conlang@...>