Nenets numbers (was Re: Phonemic vocalic length in PU/PFU (was Re: Questions about Hungarian))
|From:||TamĂˇs RacskĂł <tracsko@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, May 19, 2004, 10:59|
On 18 May Alex Fink <a4pq1injbok_0@F...> wrote:
I didn't hear anything. However, I think even if it's true, it
should be a secondary development.
In the list of Samoyedic numbers at
<http://www.zompist.com/asia.htm>, we can find Nenets s'idend'et
for '8', this is clearly "2 times 4" (s'id'a '2' + t'et '4'). The
same is true for the other members of Northern group. This could
mean that there was a previous base 4 system.
Moreover, Samoyedic numbers '10' are possibly cognate of Finno-
Ugric numbers '5'. This can be interpreted as an evidence of an
early base 5 system. Etc.
We can find a lot of number systems if we want. I see the point
in somewhere else. Nenets used no great absolute numerals before
they met with Russians. They used "measuring nouns" instead, nouns
like English dozen, bundle etc. E.g. they gave five "bundles" of
fur for a gun when they traded with the Russian prioneers. It's
possible that a "bundle" consisted 9 pieces of fur, thus they began
to develop a base 9 system in this stage. But IMHO this was also
due to the Russian influence, it was temporary and it was soon
replaced by the base 10 system.
This "measuring nouns" can be proved in the other Uralic
languages, too. E.g. Hungarian kéve 'sheaf (of grain that can be
clasped in hands during reaping)' > kalangya (or: kereszt) '30
sheaves' > kepe '60 sheaves': reaped grain was counted in
kalangya's and kepe's instead of tens or hundreads of sheaves.
Moreover, some authors think that the anterior constituent of Ugric
numbers '8' (Hungarian nyol.c, Vogul n'ol.low, Ostyak n'1l.@G)
originally meant 'a bundle of squirrel fur or dried fish containing
In addition to the above, there was an earlier period when
Hungarian kalangya meant 24 sheaves (and not 30 ones). This change
is similar to the shift of the Nenets counting base, but neither
Hungarian nor Nenets example doesn't mean the change of the base of
the number system in mathematical sense. The cultures lacking the
concept of money (including self-supporting feudal communities)
don't use exact numbers, they apply rather relative measurements
valid for the actual barter (comparison).