Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
cybermutiny
Posts: 49
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:43 am UTC
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Contact:

Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby cybermutiny » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:31 pm UTC

Hey everyone, I just had a random thought the other day: it seems like every language I've ever dabbled in has used a base 10 number system.

Is anyone aware of a language or culture (from past or present) that did not use one?
P = (A*F) - S, where A = art, F = funny, S = style, and P = Paint Avant-Garde

Derek
Posts: 2181
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:15 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Derek » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:42 pm UTC

I'm pretty sure French uses a base-20 system. I don't know French though, so I don't know much more.

goofy
Posts: 911
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby goofy » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:43 pm UTC

French and scots Gaelic do some counting in twenties: soixante-dix (70), quatre-vingt (80). I don't know if that counts.
Scots Gaelic numbers: http://www.sf.airnet.ne.jp/~ts/language ... aelic.html
Last edited by goofy on Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:49 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Iulus Cofield
WINNING
Posts: 2917
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:43 pm UTC

My Latin professor was recently talking about this. He said some scholars think English used to have a base 12 and that French and Latin used to have a base 20 system, which would explain the irregularities of numerals.

User avatar
gaurwraith
Posts: 285
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:56 pm UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby gaurwraith » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:46 pm UTC

Let's go to the other thread, quick!
The traditional Chinese units of weight were base-16. For example, one jīn (斤) (approximately 256 grams) in the old system equals sixteen liǎng (兩) (16g). The suanpan (Chinese abacus) could be used to perform hexadecimal calculations
.
I am a lvl 89 sword barb

cntrational
This guy's name is a utter lie.
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:36 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby cntrational » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:34 am UTC

English also has a French-like system for counting in base-20, compare French "quatre vingt sept" (lit. four twenty seven) with "4 score and 7 years ago".

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26767
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:57 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:He said some scholars think English used to have a base 12...which would explain the irregularities of numerals.
No it wouldn't. The words for 11 and 12 come from roots meaning, essentially, "one left over" and "two left over", which very clearly suggest a base-ten system. And if Latin was ever base-20, how come Roman Numerals so very clearly aren't?
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Iulus Cofield
WINNING
Posts: 2917
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:33 am UTC

No need to be hostile, sir.

As I said, that is what my Latin professor said. He's not an expert on historical English, so I'm not surprised neither he nor I knew that "eleven" means "one left over". Nor did he say it was a widely accepted theory. He was more saying, "This is a neat idea some people have had."

As for Latin, the Roman Numeral system clearly doesn't represent the linguistic origins of Roman numbers. IV is quattuor not undequinque, IX is novem, not undedecim. L is quinaquaginta, which is as regular as any multiple of 10 after 20 and before 100. I mean, what IS the base of Roman Numerals? I? V? X? L? C? A variable base depending on how large the number?

His evidence for a potential base 20 was that 18 and 19 are duodeviginti (20 minus 2) and undeviginti (20 minus 1), and that after 20 numbers go along the pattern viginti unus (twenty one), vinginti duo (twenty two) or unus et viginti (one and twenty), duo et viginti (two and twenty). Whereas before have individual names up to ten, then go undecim (one ten), duodecim (two ten), up to 17 then the aforementioned pair. He also mentioned French's use of base twenty as possibly connected. Again, he said "Some people think", not "This is definite fact." There's certainly other reasons to think Latin was always base ten.

User avatar
cybermutiny
Posts: 49
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:43 am UTC
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby cybermutiny » Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:29 pm UTC

gaurwraith wrote:Let's go to the other thread, quick!
The traditional Chinese units of weight were base-16. For example, one jīn (斤) (approximately 256 grams) in the old system equals sixteen liǎng (兩) (16g). The suanpan (Chinese abacus) could be used to perform hexadecimal calculations
.


Perhaps, but the actual spoken number system in Chinese is a base-10 system. I just find it interesting that so many cultures used a base-10 system. It makes me think there is some innate tendency for humans to think in 10s.
P = (A*F) - S, where A = art, F = funny, S = style, and P = Paint Avant-Garde

cntrational
This guy's name is a utter lie.
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:36 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby cntrational » Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:52 pm UTC

cybermutiny wrote:It makes me think there is some innate tendency for humans to think in 10s.


A simpler explanation would be that humans have 10 fingers.

User avatar
Thirty-one
Posts: 342
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:13 pm UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Thirty-one » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:04 pm UTC

Danish uses a base 20 system, I think, to some extent. I believe I've also heard that that's true for Basque.
Danes still mostly use base 10, but base 20 for all the tens.


*Waits for Dane to enter thread and correct*
Annoyed, getting worked up or bored by the post above? Help is here.

Makri
Posts: 654
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:57 pm UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Makri » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:37 pm UTC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_names

However, some of the stuff there is also dubious. It's ridiculous to say that only because English and German have (by now) morphologically simple words for 11 and 12, they have duodecimal systems. But at least one would now know what languages to look at.
¬□(∀♀(∃♂(♀❤♂)⟷∃♂(♂❤♀)))

goofy
Posts: 911
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby goofy » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:25 pm UTC

Scots Gaelic
deich air fhichead (30 literally "ten and twenty")
dà fhichead (40 literally "two twenty")
dà fhichead is a deich (50 literally "two twenty and ten")
trì fhichead (60 literally "three twenty")
etc...

hagow
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:27 pm UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby hagow » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:08 am UTC

Romans didn't have a base anything number system, in the sense that we would use it the word: their numerical symbols weren't digital. "Base" is a concept that we humans pinned down only relatively recently, sometime after the invention of zero. Since this is the case, older languages obviously will not fit the mold.
.
.
.
Although you can count binary on your fingers, if you stretch.

User avatar
Iulus Cofield
WINNING
Posts: 2917
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:28 am UTC

Whoa, I'd never thought of counting binary on my fingers instead of in my head. That's actually incredibly easy and strangely relaxing.
Anyway, it's certainly not possible to a a base-x symbol system without zero, but linguistic number systems seem to pretty clearly exist. At some point the names for numbers have to become recursive or it necessitates as many words as you have usable numbers. Of course you can just throw out doing math and just have a few numbers in your language, but the benefits of counting and math are fairly plentiful.

User avatar
Plasma Mongoose
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:09 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Plasma Mongoose » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:03 am UTC

I remember that the Babylonians counted in base 60, which is how we ended up with things such as 60 second in a minute/60 minutes in an hour as well as 360o to a circle.
A virus walks into a bar, the bartender says "We don't serve viruses in here".
The virus replaces the bartender and says "Now we do!"

cntrational
This guy's name is a utter lie.
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:36 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby cntrational » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:31 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Whoa, I'd never thought of counting binary on my fingers instead of in my head. That's actually incredibly easy and strangely relaxing.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finger_binary

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26767
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:48 pm UTC

Plasma Mongoose wrote:I remember that the Babylonians counted in base 60, which is how we ended up with things such as 60 second in a minute/60 minutes in an hour as well as 360o to a circle.
Yeah, though they used base-10 for each base-60 "digit".
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Kizyr
Posts: 2070
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:16 am UTC
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Kizyr » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:02 pm UTC

The only ones that come to mind are ancient civilizations.

Mayans used a base-20 system, with places. Meaning that the first position was the 1s (0-19 by 1s), the second was the 20s (20-380 by 20s), the third was the 400s (400-7600 by 400s), etc.

gmalivuk wrote:
Plasma Mongoose wrote:I remember that the Babylonians counted in base 60, which is how we ended up with things such as 60 second in a minute/60 minutes in an hour as well as 360o to a circle.
Yeah, though they used base-10 for each base-60 "digit".

And as mentioned the Babylonians used a hexagesimal system with alternating 60-10-60-10 places.

I'd imagine there are some groups that could use a base-five system, much the way that tallying works. Both Western European tally marks (i.e., |||| plus a slash) and Chinese/Japanese tally marks (i.e., 正 or 玉) count up in fives. But there's no position significance; it's just counting in fives. KF
~Kizyr
Image

User avatar
ExplodingHat
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:15 am UTC
Location: Land of Smog and Sunsets

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby ExplodingHat » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:44 pm UTC

goofy wrote:dà fhichead is a deich

Hey now, no need for crass language. :P
Some call it luck, I call it "subconscious planning".

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26767
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:45 am UTC

Kizyr wrote:Mayans used a base-20 system, with places. Meaning that the first position was the 1s (0-19 by 1s), the second was the 20s (20-380 by 20s), the third was the 400s (400-7600 by 400s), etc.
Actually, the second place had only 18 digits in the Mayan system.

And as mentioned the Babylonians used a hexagesimal system with alternating 60-10-60-10 places.
I don't know that that's how I'd describe it. As I recall, it's more like the equivalent of writing a million as 4374640, and then understanding that it's meant to be read as 04-37-46-40, where each individual digit has its normal base-ten meaning but the pairs indicate powers of sixty.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Kizyr
Posts: 2070
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:16 am UTC
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Kizyr » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:59 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Kizyr wrote:And as mentioned the Babylonians used a hexagesimal system with alternating 60-10-60-10 places.
I don't know that that's how I'd describe it. As I recall, it's more like the equivalent of writing a million as 4374640, and then understanding that it's meant to be read as 04-37-46-40, where each individual digit has its normal base-ten meaning but the pairs indicate powers of sixty.

Yeah, that's what I had in mind, just more clearly/accurately explained. Thanks for the clarification. (I suppose the better way to state it would be either as a base-60 system if you consider the numbers in pairs, or an alternating 10-6-10-6 system if you consider the numbers in isolation?)

gmalivuk wrote:
Kizyr wrote:Mayans used a base-20 system, with places. Meaning that the first position was the 1s (0-19 by 1s), the second was the 20s (20-380 by 20s), the third was the 400s (400-7600 by 400s), etc.
Actually, the second place had only 18 digits in the Mayan system.

Wait what? Where'd the other two go? KF
~Kizyr
Image

Tuatara
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:05 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Tuatara » Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:15 am UTC

I think there are a handful of quinary systems in some of the languages of Vanuatu but can't recall which ones they are.

The World Atlas of Language Structures gives a fair number of base-20 and hybrid vigesimal/decimal languages at wals.info/feature/131

fənɑlədʒɪst
Posts: 64
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:14 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby fənɑlədʒɪst » Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:52 pm UTC

Personally, I think it may have been a coincidence that a lot of languages used a base 10 counting system then became powerful, spreading their mathematical systems to other cultures. Who knows what the counting systems were like back in the days when no one knew there was anyone else in the world outside of their wittle, tiny villages. Language contact can have extreme impacts on both language and culture, so I wouldn't be surprised if the base 10 counting system spread through contact.

Also, as a slightly on topic note, East Asian languages have base 10 counting systems, as someone mentioned Mandarin earlier. However, it's not exactly the same as English, as we split our larger numbers up as such:

10
100
1,000
1,000,000

But Japanese and Mandarin, and I believe Korean, although I only just started recently on Korean, make a cut-off at 10,000. So, 20,000 instead of "twenty + thousand" is "two + ten thousand." I forgot what the word is in Mandarin, but in Japanese it's 万 (まん, man, [maɴ]). Pretty cool, but it makes counting in Japanese above 10,000 a PAIN.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26767
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:04 am UTC

fənɑlədʒɪst wrote:I think it may have been a coincidence that a lot of languages used a base 10 counting system then became powerful
And it had nothing whatsoever to do with the number of fingers we have?
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

fənɑlədʒɪst
Posts: 64
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:14 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby fənɑlədʒɪst » Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:04 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
fənɑlədʒɪst wrote:I think it may have been a coincidence that a lot of languages used a base 10 counting system then became powerful
And it had nothing whatsoever to do with the number of fingers we have?


Ah well, I have a funny definition of coincidence. I'm sure they're correlated, but the number of languages that don't use base 10 is enough for me to say it's not universal, just statistically significant... which I don't care too much about statistics when it comes to languages anyway. That's why I'm a phonetician and not a phonologist, despite my username haha.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26767
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:54 am UTC

fənɑlədʒɪst wrote:Ah well, I have a funny definition of coincidence. I'm sure they're correlated, but the number of languages that don't use base 10 is enough for me to say it's not universal, just statistically significant.
Universal or not, I think the simplest explanation for the prevalence of base-10 in so many disparate otherwise quite different cultures is that we all have 10 fingers.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
ZLVT
Posts: 1448
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:56 pm UTC
Location: Canberra, Australia
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby ZLVT » Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:51 am UTC

Exactly which languages are you clinging to not having base 10? Some of the languages listed here have a vigesimal system true, but even they are deep down base 10. French for instance does organise things as "sixty-four" and "sixty-seventeen" but the way they say 74 is soisant dix-sept (60 10 7) because their numbers 17 18 and 19 are dix sept, dix huit, and dix neuf respectively, 10-7 10-8 10-9. Even though they have unique words for 11 12 13 14 15 16 they chose to form 17 18 19 with ten. En plus they have unique words for 20 30 40 50 60 and 80 is formed with 4-20. This really suggests a base 10 system to me, albeit one in which they don't have unique numbers for 70 and 90. I think the same pretty much applies to danish.

All of the other non-base 10 systems listed are based on multiples of 10: 20 or 60, and I'd be curious to find out whether their spoken forms reflected this fact or whether they were base 10 systems written in more complex ways for whatever purpose.
22/♂/hetero/atheist/★☭/Image

Originator of the DIY ASL tags

adavies42
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:52 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby adavies42 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:52 pm UTC

cybermutiny wrote:Hey everyone, I just had a random thought the other day: it seems like every language I've ever dabbled in has used a base 10 number system.

Is anyone aware of a language or culture (from past or present) that did not use one?


one of Martin Gardner's books had a whole section on base-based (so to speak) puzzles, introduced with a history of number bases. there were apparently lots of indigenous tribes in various areas that used all sorts of small bases--4, 5, 8, 12, etc.--usually derived from some other counting habit--count on the spaces between the fingers, count fingers and feet, etc.

lojban supports hexadecimal directly (any number containing the words for digits A-F is hex by default), and arbitrary bases through 16 by adding a "base" notation (e.g. if you want to express the decimal number 142 in base 12 you can say the equivalent of "BA base 12").

adavies42
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:52 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby adavies42 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:57 pm UTC

ZLVT wrote:French for instance does organise things as "sixty-four" and "sixty-seventeen"


also that's pretty much unique to French French (it seems to have originated as an in-joke by Louis XIV's courtier's). swiss, belgians, and quebecois (and some francophone african countries) say "septante", "huitante" (or "octante"), and "nonante".

User avatar
Grop
Posts: 1994
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:36 am UTC
Location: France

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Grop » Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:48 am UTC

As far as I know, septante and nonante are only used in Swiss and Belgium, and huitante in Swiss only.

A minority of African countries may do as in Belgium, but I doubt Canada is different from France in that regard.

Anyway, what ZLVT said. The French have probably counted by twenties and tens in the middle ages, but today it's just a matter of words for numbers.

User avatar
Roĝer
Posts: 445
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:36 pm UTC
Location: Many worlds, but mostly Copenhagen.
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Roĝer » Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:15 pm UTC

About a month ago at a concert I saw a performance of a song called Pi, in which one verse was the recital of digits of pi in lojban, in base 16 of course (the first digits are 3,24 by the way). Such a beautiful celebration of geek culture.
Ik ben niet koppig, ik heb gewoon gelijk.

User avatar
Iulus Cofield
WINNING
Posts: 2917
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:00 pm UTC

I want to make a base-π system. It would finally be rational! And math would be impossible.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26767
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:36 pm UTC

Pi doesn't magically become the ratio of two integers just because you've got a terminating representation of it.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
ZLVT
Posts: 1448
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:56 pm UTC
Location: Canberra, Australia
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby ZLVT » Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:10 pm UTC

in a pi based system would our concept of integer not now rely on pi?
22/♂/hetero/atheist/★☭/Image

Originator of the DIY ASL tags

User avatar
Iulus Cofield
WINNING
Posts: 2917
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:00 pm UTC

1) π/π=π
2) Therefore, π is a rational numer in a base-π system
3) ?????
4) Math is now impossible.

CRL
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:14 pm UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby CRL » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:29 am UTC

π/π=1 no matter what base you use.

User avatar
Iulus Cofield
WINNING
Posts: 2917
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:38 am UTC

It wasn't a very funny joke anyway.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26767
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:00 pm UTC

ZLVT wrote:in a pi based system would our concept of integer not now rely on pi?
No. Integers are the numbers you can get if you start from zero and keep adding one, along with the numbers you can add to those to get zero (i.e. the negatives). Unless we change the meanings of zero and addition, the integers don't change.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
klausok
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:27 pm UTC

Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby klausok » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:48 pm UTC

Danish uses a base 20 system, I think, to some extent. I believe I've also heard that that's true for Basque.
Danes still mostly use base 10, but base 20 for all the tens.


*Waits for Dane to enter thread and correct*


OK, here I am. Only the numbers 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90 are base 20, and even they are not at all obvious to a modern Dane. E.g. "halvtreds" is a contraction of "halvtredje sinde tyve", which is "halvtredje", litterally half-third, an obsolete term for two and a half, "sinde", an obsolete word for times, and "tyve", twenty. And by obsolete I mean that they are never used and most people don't understand them.

BTW this why "halvtreds", fifty, has a silent d and "tres", sixty, does not. "Tredje" has a d, "tre" does not.


Return to “Language/Linguistics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests