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Re: Number

From:Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>
Date:Monday, March 8, 2004, 10:58
Staving Matthew Kehrt:
>How do your various *langs partition number? > >The only ways I know of natlangs partitioning number are into singular and >plural, with perhaps a few additional, such as nullar, dual, trial or >paucal. However, my knowledge of such things is sadly lacking. Do any >natlanguages exist that do something radically different? > >For examply, my lang, Eviendadhail, has partitive, which is some number or >amount of some object or substance, and collective, which is all of that >object or substance. Does anyone do anything similar?
First of all, welcome to the Conlang Community. One of my sketchlangs (ideas for later development), Wavoragon, has three numbers, singular, multiple and plural. Multiple is used for known quantities, and plural for unknown quantities. However, what is important is not whether or not the speaker himself knows the quantity, but whether he believes it to be known in principle. Wavoragon is the language of a semi-nomadic herdsman society, for which the distinction between known and unknown quantities of animals is an important matter of livestock management. There are several languages on Huna derived from Wavoragon. One branch of Wavoragon's descendents lost the original plural form, and the multiple replaced it entirely. In another branch, a dual number was added. This was a culture in which smiths were the elite caste, and they regarded the number two as sacred, because of the dualities of light and dark, heat and cold, above ground and below ground, fire and water, heating and quenching. Among their descendents were a culture of traders who came to regard all things as having a "natural quantity" associated with them, and so developed a series of genders, each of which had a different number system. For example, in the corporeal gender, singular and dual had merged, taking the form of the dual. This denoted things that naturally occurred in pairs, such as body parts. Pete