Why don't thirteen through nineteen have unique names like eleven and twelve?
And on the contrary, why are they "eleven" and "twelve" instead of "oneteen" and "twoteen"?
Not looking for Superfactsâ„¢ here, just fun discussion. :)
Numbers - Why do the teens exist?
#16553534 - 5 years ago
"While you may think that the words emerged from a base-12 numbering system â€” think months of the year, hours in half a day, or inches in a foot â€” it turns out that this simply isnâ€™t the case. â€Elevenâ€ is actually a base-10 term. The word â€œelevenâ€ is derived from the Old English word â€œendleofanâ€ (pronounced â€œend-lih-fenâ€) which itself comes from the Germanic â€œainlif,â€ a compound word: â€œainâ€ means â€œoneâ€ and â€œlifâ€ was a version of the word â€œleft.â€ (The word â€œleaveâ€ has the same root.) Combined, â€œainlifâ€ means â€œone left.â€ Imagine a Germanic goat herder from the early Middle Ages counting his flock, putting them in units of ten â€” but missing his estimate and ending up with one left over. That last one is â€œainlifâ€ â€” â€œeleven.â€
The word â€œtwelveâ€ follows a similar construct, from the terms â€œtwelfâ€ in Old English and â€œtwalifâ€ at its Germanic routs. Again, the word â€œtenâ€ is assumed and the math still works: â€œelevenâ€ is really â€œten plus oneâ€ and â€œtwelveâ€ is â€œten plus two.â€ There is nothing duodenary about their names.
For 13 to 19? â€œTeenâ€ simply means â€œten more than,â€ and of course, the prefix is self-explanatory. And no, we do not know why there is a linguistic split after twelve. Both the â€œteenâ€ and â€œlifâ€ terms developed at roughly the same time â€” probably around the year 900. The antiquity of these terms makes it impossible to determine the reason for certain."
Source = nowiknow.com/oneteen-and-twoteen/
LoZelda Supposedly An Adult
#16554781 - 5 years ago
My interpretation: way back when you didn't really have a need for a number beyond 10. Then suddenly someone had eleven or something, so they made up a new word for it. Then suddenly there was another thing, so they made up a new word again. By the time the next thing showed up they said "fuck it, this is too hard."
#16555861 - 5 years ago
What I find interesting is that eleven and twelve exist in other languages as independent from the other teens and it others they don't. Example is in german "Elf" and "Zwolf" mean 11 and 12, while 13-19 are represented by the german word for the number followed by "zehn" (german for 10) However in spanish it doesn't start the repeated for of the number and then 10 until 16...Language is weird.
#16561317 - 5 years ago
In reply to LoZelda, #7:
That's certainly the most likely scenario.
In reply to roblvb15, #10:
This is certainly peculiar. I wonder how people decided some of that stuff. Because obviously larger numbers had been around(in use) longer than most of these languages, right? (I would hope...?)