Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Cardinal vs Ordinal Age

From:Iain E. Davis <feaelin@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 5, 2003, 15:28
At 03:34 AM 11/4/2003, you wrote:
>On 4 Nov, Ray Brown wrote: > > > Ordinals seem favored by people when they reach that time when they no > > longer try to hide their age but rather wish to boast of their longevity. > > Certainly IME nongenarians are likely to say "I'm in my 93rd year" rather > > than the tamer "I'm only 92". :) > >Interesting. Yet little children who boast about how big >they are use cardinal numbers (in English and Israeli Hebrew). >Even earlier, when they can barely count, little kids who >hold up fingers to tell how old they are, are also using >cardinal numbers. Possibly because kids learn cardinal >numbers before ordinal numbers. Would this be a >language universal?
I don't know. The choice may be culturally driven. Given the age of the typical parent, I'm assuming the parents (the child's primary source of information on "how to talk") are going to use cardinal numbers. In fact, it is my experience that children are almost taught to say "I am four years old" even before they really know what "I am four years old" means. They just know that it is an appropiate response to "How old are you?". Iain.


Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>