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 > > > > > >