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Re: Cardinal vs Ordinal Age

From:dansulani <dansulani@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 4, 2003, 5:23
On 3 Nov, Nik Taylor wrote:

> > Or, loosely, "He/She is enduring for the 40th time a year". > > Wouldn't you use "41st"? The year you were born was the first time, but > in English, is not "one". You don't turn "one" until you've lived a > whole year, when you enter your *second* year of life, and so on. >
And Mike Ellis wrote:
> I've thought about this before. Your very FIRST year of life is the one >from the day you were born -- your zeroth birthday -- until your first >birthday, when you're LESS than a year old. Your SECOND year of life begins >on that day -- your first birthday -- and continues until your second >birthday. > In your fortieth year, you are thirty-nine.
Oops! You guys are right, of course. The English-language mindset tends to view age in terms of accomplishment, not duration. That is: until the first birthday, what are counted are the number of months the baby has passed. Before the end of the first month, days are counted, before the end of the first day, hours are counted and so on. I never could keep straight the difference between ordinal and cardinal ages/dates! Modern Israeli Hebrew views age the same way, so I have the luxery of getting confused in two langs! :-P Although, when stressing that one must pass a critical amount of time before one is allowed a legal priviledge or be bound by a certain law, sometimes Israelis use the form: "he has filled ( x amount of time)", which, to me, seems a lot clearer. Thinking about it, there seems to be an interesting difference between ordinal and cardinal mindsets. English (and Israeli Hebrew) seem to have a pessimistic view of life: You're only as old as the amount of time you have survived to date. From this moment on, who knows how much longer you'll live? Why bother counting it? Whereas in a cardinal mindset, you are in the middle of a given unit of time, which extends in the past back to the time-unit's beginning, but also posits a future extention of the time-period to its conclusion, whether or not you actually live to see it. Thus, time yet to be is counted as part of your age. IMHO, this makes a cardinal mindset more optimistic than an ordinal one. Dan Sulani ------------------------------------------------------- likehsna rtem zuv tikuhnuh auag inuvuz vaka'a. A word is an awesome thing.