Saturday, March 25, 2023
HomeNewsHow did the Danish language find yourself with its loopy numbers?

How did the Danish language find yourself with its loopy numbers?

Any non-native particular person studying Danish could have observed that the numbers – significantly from 50 to 99 – observe a, let’s name it eclectic system.

I’ve been talking Danish as a second language for effectively over ten years and my mind nonetheless protests at any time when somebody tells me their phone quantity in two-digit clusters. It’s simply not that straightforward to instantly perceive and write every set down. (‘Did they are saying 67? 77? 76? I’m going to want to ask them to repeat it…’)

Even Norwegians and Swedes, whose languages have completely regular numbering techniques, will readily admit to discovering numbers baffling of their Scandinavian sister tongue.

In Danish, the numbers are roughly youngster’s play till you get to 50, however then issues get somewhat bizarre.

Single digit numbers and youths observe a sample you’ll count on to see if translating quantity names instantly from English.

Twenty (tyve), thirty (tredive) and forty (fyrre) even have their very own phrases in Danish, albeit with considerably unusual spellings.

READ ALSO: 5 suggestions that make it simpler to be taught Danish

To say a quantity between 20 and 49, the method is once more simple: for instance, 25 is ‘five-and-twenty’ (femogtyve), 32 is ‘two-and-thirty’ (toogtredive) and 49 is ‘nine-and-forty’ (niogfyrre).

Straightforward, proper? It’s about to turn into much less so.

The frequent names for numbers 50 (halvtreds), 60 (tres), 70 (halvfjerds), 80 (firs) and 90 (halvfems) are literally shortened variations of even longer quantity names: halvtredsindstyve, tresindstyve, halvfjerdsindstyve, firsindstyve and halvfemsindstyve.

All of those names have the suffix sindstyve, which comes from the archaic sinde that means ‘to multiply’, and tyve (20). So the names of every of those numbers come from one other quantity title ‘multiplied by 20’. Most individuals would assume it’s simpler to multiply by 10 than by 20, however you do you, Denmark.

We now want to clarify the place the primary half of those quantity names comes from. That is the place it will get flat-out bonkers.

You’ll have observed that fifty (halvtreds), 70 (halvfjerds) and 90 (halvfems) every have a prefix in addition to the aforementioned suffix. That’s to say, all of them start with halv, the Danish phrase for ‘half’.

However the halv in every of those three instances doesn’t imply the identical factor. It’s itself abbreviated from different, totally different phrases which all start with halv: a sequence of old style Danish phrases for fractions which accurately imply ‘this quantity minus a half’.

Certainly one of these phrases continues to be in use in trendy Danish: halvanden, that means one-and-a-half, is a really helpful phrase in itself. It’s fairly straightforward to see that halvanden comes from ‘two minus a half’, since anden means ‘second’ and halv, as we all know, means ‘half’.

Nonetheless with me? Okay, on we go.

As talked about, halvanden is considered one of a household of phrases for fractions, however the one one nonetheless generally used. The complete set is as follows:

  • halvanden: 1½ (actually, ‘the second minus a half’)
  • halvtredje: 2½ (‘the third minus a half’)
  • halvfjerde: 3½ (‘the fourth minus a half’)
  • halvfemte: 4½ (‘the fifth minus a half’)

Clear as crystal? I hope so. As a result of now we’re leaving this diversion and going again to our multiples of ten from 50-90.

  • 50, halvtreds, is constructed of halvtredje and sindstyve: 2½ instances 20 equals 50.
  • 60, tres, is the extra easy tre (three) and sindstyve: 3 instances 20 equals 60.
  • 70, halvfjerds, is constructed of halvfjerde and sindstyve: 3½ instances 20 equals 70.
  • 80, firs, is the extra easy fireplace (4) and sindstyve: 4 instances 20 equals 80.
  • 90, halvfems, is constructed of halvfemte and sindstyve: 4½ instances 20 equals 90.

From right here, the remainder of the numbers between 50-99 are plain crusing, since they’re spoken the identical method because the decrease double-figures. So 55 is ‘five-and-fifty’ (femoghalvtreds), 82 is ‘two-and-eighty’ (toogfirs) and 99 is ‘nine-and-ninety’ (nioghalvfems).

I suppose lets say that if you say a quantity like 55, you’re technically saying ‘five-plus-two-and-a-half-times-twenty’… however let’s depart that for now.

So now the logic behind Denmark’s counting system is absolutely defined, proper? Effectively, not fairly, as a result of there’s a darkish horse: the quantity 40.

Earlier, I wrote that the phrase for 40 in Danish, fyrre, simply means 40. However that’s not precisely right. It’s truly an abbreviation of fyrretyve.

Concern not although, for this time there aren’t any multiples of 20 concerned. Fyrretyve comes from the Center Danish phrase fyritiughu, which will be translated to ‘4 tenners’. Somebody, someplace in Danish historical past, apparently did see the sense in utilizing multiples of 10 in spite of everything.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments