LINGUIST List 15.328

Thu Jan 29 2004

Qs: Syllables/Agglutination; Overcounting/Numerals

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  1. Mohinish Shukla, syllabic structure & agglutination
  2. Thomas Hanke, Overcounting in Numerals

Message 1: syllabic structure & agglutination

Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 08:36:15 -0500 (EST)
From: Mohinish Shukla <>
Subject: syllabic structure & agglutination

Hi, is anyone aware of any research on the relation between languages
with simple syllabic structures and agglutination? I think I remember
reading that the two are correlated, but cannot find it anymore!
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Message 2: Overcounting in Numerals

Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 12:44:53 -0500 (EST)
From: Thomas Hanke <>
Subject: Overcounting in Numerals


Think of the expression: ''one in/of fourty'' Could a similar phrase
mean '31' or '21' in any language you know of? I would be glad to
receive cues on numeral systems with such constructions and the
involved morphology (adpositions, cases, whatever).

The phenomenom is known as overcounting (translated from Menninger:
''Oberz´┐Żhlung''). In some numeral systems, it's the regular method
for the composition of numerals, at least in some range over the first
base. In other languages, only a few numerals seem to include a
variant of the following base (e.g. in Russian '80' and '90'). Before
last week, I had read about vigesimal overcounting as an areal feature
of (parts of) Mesoamerica and a Danish particularity. Then I found
descriptions of two unrelated Asian languages with decimal

Of course, a summary will be posted to the LinguistList, including a
list of overcounting languages and relevant literature.

Thomas Hanke

PS The normally mentioned cases are:

1. Classical Mayan languages, in which the '41' was expressed by a
construction like ''one in third twenty''; range: '41' up to '400'.

2. Danish '50' - '90' ''halvtres(indstyve)''
{half-third-t(imes-ten.PL)} (partly obscured), ''tres'', halvfers,
fers, halvfems. It's the only example I found in which decades are
literally ''halved twenties''.

3. In Slavonian languages, '80' and '90' include an element to '100'. 
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