Eleven and Twelve

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by superstring01, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. superstring01 Moderator

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    Dear Mr. Linguist Man:

    Why "eleven" and "twelve" and not "firsteen" and "seconteen"? Why do they get their own special term and get to depart from the "teen" pattern?

    Is this somehow tied to the special status the "twelve pattern" holds to the English world? (i.e. "dozen", twelve hours on the clock, etc.)

    ~String
     
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  3. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Eleven is a corruption of Old English: endleofan = one left (over ten).
    Similarly twelve is "two left".
     
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  5. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently it goes - foolish me, I thought the same actually - right back to Abrahamic influences:

    Maybe it's partially bounded by an avoidance of 13, which is an unlucky number going back 2000 years.
     
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  7. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    Similarly, dozen is two-ten (do-Zehn), though I'm not certain on its exact derivation through time.
     
  8. superstring01 Moderator

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    Clearly I asked "Mr. Linguist Man" . . . are any of you "Mr. Linguist Men"? Are you? I know I'm not?

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    Also, thanks for the quick replies.

    ~String
     
  9. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    I'm told I'm quite a cunning linguist, actually. But enough of that here.

    Actually, my post was senseless, as you have detected. "Elf" and "zvolf" are Old German in origin, and so rather than the Jews, it is the Germans we must blame. But isn't it always.

    But enough of that here. Surely ancient Germans weren't influenced by Jewish patterns of numeration. Unless, you know, Atlantis, obviously.
     
  10. superstring01 Moderator

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    She was lying to make you feel better about yourself. Women oftentimes do that.

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    ~String
     
  11. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Well then the results of my informal survey are crap.

    Well done, ruining social science for everyone.
     
  12. superstring01 Moderator

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    These things are better done quickly. No use dragging them out.

    Brush yourself off and move on.

    ~String
     
  13. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Very well. I shall confine my observations henceforth to the rigorously understood field of international banking.
     
  14. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Close, but not close enough.
    Zehn is German, therefore the two would be Zwei.
    Dozen is from the Old French: douze-aine.

    Now and again.

    Untrue.
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=thirteen

    IOW the 13 being unlucky because of the Last Supper is a revisionist view.

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  15. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    the first number systems were base 12
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Why "firsteen" and "seconteen"??? The pattern would dictate "oneteen" and "twoteen"--or more likely "twainteen," which by now would have degraded into "twenteen," just as "twainty" became "twenty."
    More on that in a moment.

    Proto-Indo-European had a word for "hundred," kmtom, and in fact the traditional taxonomy of the Indo-European family is based on the evolution of that word. In the Eastern subfamily the K softened to S (Russian sto, Sanskrit satem), while it was retained in the Western subfamily (Greek hekaton and Latin kentum-- spelled "centum"). We still often refer to them as the Satem Languages and the Kentum Languages--although ironically that K quickly changed into H in German hundert, S in French cien, CH in Italian cento and TH in Spanish ciento.

    This indicates that the tribe had developed basic arithmetic and used the decimal system. However, they apparently had not developed a standard way of naming two-digit numbers, because none was passed down to us. Today there are myriad systems: twenty-six in English, six-and-twenty in German, twenty-and-six in Spanish, six-on-twenty in Czech, etc.

    The Germanic languages are unusual (if not unique) among the Indo-European languages, for treating 11 and 12 differently from the other "teens." As Dywyddr noted, "eleven" and "twelve" are special words leftover from Stone Age counting: "one left" and "two left" after running out of fingers. This is, however, not unusual from a global standpoint. I remember reading about one of the languages of Southeast Asia or Oceania in which "eleven" is rendered literally as "now I have to go down and start using my toes."
    Not convincingly. Besides, the twelve pattern is hardly limited to the anglophone community. The reason we have the word "dozen" is that the Normans had already coined the word douzaine, a noun formed from the number douze. (Which is Latin duodecem, "two-ten".) They also gave us the word "gross" for twelve dozen.

    I wonder whether twelve was simply a handy number for use in business, since a dozen doohickeys can be broken up and sold separately as groups of two, three, four or six. Ten doohickeys only give you groups of two or five.

    The Romans and Greeks also found twelve to be a useful number, not to mention sixty, which can be factored by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 20 and 30! The Mayan calendar, which has lately become notorious, has a sixty-cycle, as does the Chinese lunar calendar.

    Everyone who's studied French is amazed by the way they count between eighty and one hundred. 98 is read as quatre-vingts dix-huit, "four twenties and eighteen." This suggests that the Franks might have had a vigesimal (base twenty) number system before they were Romanized.
    You need to review the paradigm of phonetic shifts from Proto-Germanic into Modern German. Zehn (which BTW is pronounced "tsane," not "zane") is the same word as "ten." Zwei is "two," zahn is "tooth," setzen is "sit." In many positions Proto-Germanic T became German TZ; although in many others it became S: besser = "better," das = "that," essen = "eat," etc.
    No. Humans have always had ten fingers. There is an ancient word for ten in virtually every language family for which we have reconstructed a proto-language. Not so for twelve.

    There is some suspicion that a base-five number system may have come first. The Basques are almost surely the descendants of the Cro-Magnon people, the first Homo sapiens explorers to settle in Europe. The Basque language borrowed the Spanish word for "six."
     
  17. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Bollocks, says I.
     
  18. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    German duzend = English dozen

    I was emphasizing that the word comes from some prior Indoeuropean for which we can translate it as two-ten; which you point out came from Norman French two-ten. I was not suggesting it necessarily came from "zehn" in modern German for ten, but its prior cognate that sounds similar, without trying to figure out which language that was.

    So how did German end up with duzend if English got it from the Normans?
     
  19. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

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    Let's clarify the guessed word seconteen. The word second comes from Latin, while the other English ordinals come from the Anglo-Saxon fyrst, [second], ðridda, feorða, etc. The Anglo-Saxon ordinal oðer follows fyrst. Oðer comes down to Modern English as other. So we should guess otherteen as the missing cardinal.

    Somewhere in history, English speakers began using other to indicate the remainder of two or more as well as to indicate the next after the first in an order. Apparently, the confusion of these two usages pressured English speakers to adopt the Latin second to replace oðer for use as the next after the first in an order, while oðer would continue down into Modern English to indicate the remainder of two or more.

    There's a lot to language that doesn't make sense the way we might think it should.
     
  20. superstring01 Moderator

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    Yeah. I totally made those two up.

    I figured if "thirteen" was from "third" and "teen", I'd do a "first" and "second" into "firsteen" and "seconteen".

    ~String
     
  21. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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  22. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Pfft.

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    But it's not third and teen, it's three and teen. Albeit mangled for easier pronunciation. (Metathesis).
    Imagine saying threeteen, and you get the picture!
     
  23. superstring01 Moderator

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    I don't know about your impotent Welsh tongue, but my nimble American tongue has NO trouble with that at all!

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    ~String
     

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