Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Ebisedian number system (II)

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Thursday, July 18, 2002, 19:35
On Thu, Jul 18, 2002 at 11:50:51AM -0700, JS Bangs wrote:
> H. S. Teoh sikyal: > > > Hence, this word means "(4+3*2) fingers", that is, "10 fingers". Why this > > odd breakdown? Mainly because the Ebisedi have two hands, and they think > > it's funny to count 9 fingers and add 1. They feel it's more "natural" to > > divide the fingers into 2 groups (the suffix -jei'), use the closest > > triad multiple (3), and then add the leftovers (4) to the total. After > > all, 2 and 4 are even numbers; 9 wouldn't be. > > So they do have 10 fingers? Perhaps then, alongside the triad system, > they might have a word meaning just "ten," just like we have a word > "dozen" alongside our base-10 system. Probably derived from the word > "hand"--although the word derived from "hand" might mean "five," giving > them "two hands" of fingers. (Duh).
<Revisionist hat on> Well, the original meaning of _kre'i_ used to mean "handful". Precise counting wasn't that important then; so _kre'jei_, "two handfuls", was customary for "10" in the case of fingers, but could mean anything in the range of 8 to 12. (They didn't see the need to precisely state that they had 10 fingers; they deemed it sufficient that they had 5 fingers on each hand.) When the 3-obsessed philosophy came along and recast _kre'i_ to mean 3, they didn't see the need to coin a word for ten, since the new system could express 10 equally well. </Revisionist hat off>
> > Why would a man and a woman give different answers? Because the Ebisedi > > make a distinction between male and female body parts. > > Oh, and I'm thinking of something much less innocent after these two > sentences . . . .
[snip] Well, in Ebisedi culture, such statements carry no hidden innuendos whatsoever. :-) There are other ways of hinting at less innocent things, but this isn't one of them. Besides, almost all words referring to body parts are inflected for gender. And sometimes not without hidden puns, too. E.g., _kaji'_ epi. "head" _Ka'ji_ masc. "man's head" _kacii'_ fem. "woman's head" Now, there is another word, _kaci'_, which refers to the red flower of a small Ferochromon plant. One could claim that it's a coincidence that red flowers are like women's heads; but it does give opportunity for sappy stories titled _ni iKi'ro kacii' d3 kaci'_ "the red flower on [her] head", or the cruel pun _ni iKi'ro kaci' d3 kacii'_ "[her] head on a red flower". T -- Lasagna code is just cheesy.