[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] A question about numerals

HAYASHI NORIHIKO jinozu at yahoo.co.jp
Wed Dec 17 03:20:52 UTC 2014

Hello! Gwen-san and all!

I think it is interesting to note that the numerals in Bhutanese languages also have
two-way systems, one of which is borrowed from other language sources, as Prof. LaPolla said.
In Modern Japanese, we generally use two-way system when counting from one to ten, 
and if the classifier is Japanese origin, the numeral should be also Japanese origin in general.
If the classifier is Kango (Chinese) origin, the numeral should be also Chinese origin.

'one'  iti <CH>/ hito <J>
'two' ni <CH>/ huta  <J>
'three' san <CH>/ mi <J>
'ten' zyuu <CH>/ too <J>

'a piece of paper' iti-mai [one<CH>-CLF<CH>]
'a bag' hito-hukuro [one<J>-CLF<J>]

Over 'ten', we generally use Kango originated numerals, though we used to have Japanese ones in former days.

In Standard Thai, there are two kinds of 'one' and 'two', though their features are not similar to Japanese.
The word for 'one' is nWng (Low tone) and for 'two' is sOOng (Rising tone).
There are, however, the other words for 'one' and 'two', namely, et (Low tone) and yii (Falling tone) respectively.
Et is used for 'twenty-one', 'thirty-one', ..., 'ninety-one', and yii is used for 'twenty', 'twenty-one', 'twenty-two', ... 'twenty-nine'.
Both of them are Chinese origins as well as sOOng for 'two'.

So, I think Kurtop system is somewhat similar to Japanese one rather than Thai.

All the best,


----- Original Message -----
>From: Randy LaPolla <randy.lapolla at gmail.com>
>To: Gwendolyn Lowes Hyslop <gwendolyn.hyslop at gmail.com> 
>Cc: The Tibeto-Burman Discussion List Discussion List <tibeto-burman-linguistics at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>Date: 2014/12/17, Wed 09:21
>Subject: Re: [Tibeto-burman-linguistics] A question about numerals
>Hi Gwen,
>This is actually found in a number of languages in the family, though I don't have access to the information right now. It often implies there was a native system that was replaced by a borrowed one, as in Japanese and Thai.
>On 17 Dec, 2014, at 7:08 am, Gwendolyn Hyslop <gwendolyn.hyslop at gmail.com> wrote:
>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?
>>Tibeto-burman-linguistics mailing list
>>Tibeto-burman-linguistics at listserv.linguistlist.org
>Tibeto-burman-linguistics mailing list
>Tibeto-burman-linguistics at listserv.linguistlist.org
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