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Deriving fractions and percentages (was: [Theory] Types of numerals)

From:Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 18, 2006, 12:06
Hi all,

On Tue, 17 Jan 2006 tomhchappell wrote:
> > But 1/4 seems generally (always?) to be derived from a word for 4, > > Interesting. I didn't know that.
[snip] Not always! Altho Malay does have "sa-perempat" meaning "one part of four", just as English has "one-fourth" with the same meaning, it also has a primitive(*) word "suku", one of whose meanings is "quarter". Its other common meaning matches, I think, French "quartier" (for a "suburb") in an abstract way - by generalisation from an exact "quarter" it also means "a part or division". This is evident in the set phrase "suku sakat" for "relatives", "sakat" meaning "family" in the sense of "all persons of common ancestry". Still, I do not know whether in Malay the meaning "part" became specialised as "quarter", or whether "quarter" generalised to "part". There is a parallel in the usage of "half" in English, which during my lifetime I have seen change from quite commonly meaning "one of two parts" to almost always meaning "one of two exactly equal parts". (*) I call it "primitive" to indicate I do not know of its derivation from any other word; not to imply that it is not derived from some other word! A purely subjective usage, I 'm afraid ... ObConLang: Malay and English offer two different models for a perfectly productive construction meaning "one part of <cardinal>": . English - "one-<cardinal>th" . Malay - "sa-per<cardinal>" The Malay form "sa-perempat" can be analysed as follows: "empat" = the cardinal number "four" "perempat" = "to make four parts of, to divide into four" v. hence "a fourth part" n. "sa" = the cardinal number "one" "sa-perempat" = "one fourth part" Percentages in Malay are constructed the same way: "50 per cent" = "limapuluh peratus" from: "lima" = the cardinal number "five" "puluh" = "a group of ten" "ratus" = "a group of hundred" and the prefix "pe-" (with allomorphs pem-, pen-, peng-, peny-, per- depending on the context). And of course "fifty hundredths" is perfectly comprehensible, if unusual, in English. How do your conlangs derive fractions and percentages? Regards, Yahya -- No virus found in this outgoing message. Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.1.371 / Virus Database: 267.14.18/230 - Release Date: 14/1/06


Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>