# Re: Numbers in Qthen|gai (and in Tyl Sjok) [long]

From: | Alex Fink <a4pq1injbok_0@...> |

Date: | Thursday, January 13, 2005, 14:54 |

On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 18:40:52 +0000, Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> wrote:
>On Monday, January 10, 2005, at 05:40 , Henrik Theiling wrote:
>
>[snip]
>> As I now know that some natlangs really reverse the whole digit
>> stream, I might try to optimise my system further (optimising = coming
>> closer to my internal ideal, whatever that is :-)).
>
>It appears I was mistaken about this - half-remembering things and knowing
>that in Arabic the number strings are written from lowest to highest in
>the direction of reading.
>
>Maybe, there should another 'Universal' to add to Greenberg's list :)
>"While in numbers from 11 to 99, a language may express the units may be
>before the tens or after the tens or allow both positions, the higher
>powers of 10 (i.e. 100, 1000, 10000 etc) are always expressed from highest
>to lowest before the tens & unit combination."
>
>In fact, making a Universal is a sure way of making it certain there will
>be an exception :-)

Georges Ifrah, in _The Universal History of Numbers_, writes that in Sanskrit,
"[like] all Indo-European spoken counting systems, the numbers were often
expressed -- at least in everyday use -- in descending order, from the
highest to the smallest units.
However, around the dawn of the Common Era (probably from the second century
BCE), this order was reversed, particularly in learned and official texts,
the numbers being expressed in ascending order, from the smallest to the
highest units."
He gives the example
nava pañchâshat sapta shata cha trisahasra
nine fifty seven hundred and three thousand
3759
Ifrah proposes that the switch in direction was adopted so that these
numbers could be written directly into an abacus in the order given,
starting with the ones place. If they had started with the highest power of
ten, they would have had to count columns of the abacus to know where to
start.
Still, this doesn't provide an example of a natlang system which
consistently goes from lowest to highest in everyday usage.
AFMCL, pjaukra expresses numbers starting with the lowest power of twelve:
pati xalkx-undu kari-sarda
four eleven-dozen six-gross
6B4_12 = 1000 decimal
Alex