[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] A question about numerals

Gwendolyn Hyslop gwendolyn.hyslop at gmail.com
Tue Dec 16 23:08:18 UTC 2014

Dear Tibeto-Burmanists,

In most languages of Bhutan I have looked at, I have found special forms of the numbers 'one' and 'two' for measurement contexts. For example, Kurtöp 'one' and 'two' are thê and zon unless counting things like containers (bre, phuya, etc.) of grain, points in archery, distance measured by fingers, hands, bodies, etc. In those contexts 'one' and 'two' are bleng and gwâ. I believe a similar system is also in Tibetan as well as in other Bhutanese languages, although the forms do not appear to be cognate (Dzongkha g'ang and d'o, for example).  Although it is not exactly the same sort of system, I am also reminded of the difference between the two Mandarin words for 'two'. (er2 and liang3)

So, my question to you: how widespread is this? Is it just a Tibetan/Bhutan thing or is it more widespread than this?

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