20-counting in Danish and beyond

Adam Hyllested adahyl at cphling.dk
Mon Aug 23 09:49:17 UTC 1999

On Thu, 19 Aug 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote:

> In Danish
> to og halv-fems
> means 92.
> Literally,
> two and half-FIVES

The <-s> in <halvfems> '90' is not a plural morpheme, but a shortening of
the ending <-sindstyve> 'times twenty' in the more antiquate
<halvfemsindstyve>, developed from Old Danish <halffemtesinnetiughe>,
literally 'half-fifth times twenty'.

<sinde>, which is not used independently in Modern Danish (although in
words like <nogensinde> 'ever', literally 'any time(s)'), is from
the Germanic root *sin§a-, just like the Old English <si_§> 'time, road'.

The hole system goes as follows:

20	tyve
30	tredive
40	fyrre (< fyrretyve, analogous)
50	halvtreds (< halvtredsindstyve 'half-third times twenty')
60	tres (< tresindstyve 'three times twenty')
70	halvfjerds (< halvfjerdsindstyve 'half-fourth times twenty')
80	firs (< firsindstyve 'four times twenty)
90	halvfems (< halvfemsindstyve 'half-fifth times twenty)

Adam Hyllested

More information about the Indo-european mailing list