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Topic: math query
Replies: 10   Last Post: Oct 26, 1995 6:40 PM

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Robert Goulding

Posts: 2
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: math query
Posted: Oct 26, 1995 1:57 PM
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There is another puzzle: about the Latin words for 18 and 19 - duodeviginti
(two from twenty) and undeviginti (one from twenty), a pattern repeated
for 28,29,38,39 etc. As far as I know this terminology long predates the
use of subtractive notation in Roman numerals; e.g. XIX. Does this
pattern appear in any other languages? Further also to the discussion of
different base systems, I believe that in all Saxon languages 'hundred'
originally had the meaning 120.
Robert Goulding.
Warburg Institute, London.

On Thu, 26 Oct 1995, Steve Schwartzman wrote:

> As there have been many good responses so far, I'd just like to add a
> little bit about the Latin number words in the teens up to seventeen:
> undecim = one (plus) ten
> duodecim = two (plus) ten
> tredecim = three (plus) ten
> ...
> septemdecim = seven (plus) ten
> Because of sound changes over many centuries, a Latin word like undecim was
> gradually "eroded" to once in Spanish and onze in French, in both of which
> there's practically nothing left that reveals the original word for ten. In
> Italian, on the other hand, undici still reveals the original words for one
> and ten pretty clearly. So we can't generalize about the words for eleven
> and twelve being special in the Romance languages.
> There isn't anything special about the words for fifteen in Romance, unless
> you mean that in Spanish (and similarly in Portugues quince is the last of
> the sound-altered teen numbers that developed from Latin; from diez y seis
> onward, the numbers have been reformulated analytically.
> In contrast, in the Germanic languages the words for eleven and twelve are
> special, meaning "one left (after ten)" and "two left (after ten)". Once
> again, because of changes in the language, the modern form eleven reveals
> practically nothing of the original word for "one" that it contains.
> Similarly, almost nobody would now connect the -lev- of eleven and the -lv-
> of twelve with the word "left," although the connection makes sense once
> it's pointed out.
> Other instances of the "hidden" number one in English words are:
> a, an (a book is one book, an apple is one apple)
> any (If you have any books, you have at least one)
> alone ("all one" = all by oneself)
> only ("one-ly")
> atone (to be "at one" with oneself)
> none (n[ot even] one)
> ----------------------

> > I am a high school math teacher with a historical question. Bill Dunham
> >suggested I ask you. Why in both the Romance and Germanic languages are
> >eleven and twelve so different from the rest of the teens, and why is
> >fifteen in the Romance languages different from the rest of the teens?
> >
> > If you can help, I'd really appreciate it!
> > Bonnie Leitch
> > New Braunfels High School
> > New Braunfels, Texas
> >


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