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Indo-European Numbers

Printed From: WorldHistoria Forum
Forum Name: Linguistics
Forum Description: Discuss linguistics: the study of language
Printed Date: 21 Oct 2020 at 17:58
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Topic: Indo-European Numbers
Posted By: Viewpoint
Subject: Indo-European Numbers
Date Posted: 29 May 2017 at 19:55
I'm sure that I'm not the first person to notice something a little strange about the Indo-European counting system. Much evidence has come to light that the Indo-European languages are an offshoot of the Uralic languages; many grammatical features are similar such as personal pronouns, and most Uralic speakers are yDNA haplogroup N, the predecessor of R (most Indo-European speakers are R1a or R1b). Although numbers are usually a very constant and durable linguistic feature, the Uralic numbers and the Indo European numbers are completely dissimilar. Compare Finnish yksi, kaksi, kolme, nelja, viisi, kuusi, seitseman, kahdeksan, yhdeksan, kymmenan to English one to ten, and then look at Berber yiwen, sin, tlata, rebea, xemsa, setta, sebea, tmanya, tesea, ecra. (Proto Indo-European is oynos, duwo, treyes, kwetwores, penkwe, sweks, septm, okto, newn, dekm). Obviously, Berber is an Afro-Asiatic language, and not close to Indo-European. My Explanation is that the counting system was borrowed; Afro-Asiatic is much older than Indo-European and the ancient Semitic peoples with their sheep and goat herding were the first to develop numeracy and trade as we know it today.

Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 30 May 2017 at 05:13
Finnish is a different language family from Indo-European, correct?  I guess that is the Uralic?  I thought that Uralic was different from Indo-European.
There are some languages that have counting words for one, two and many.  Ancient Greek has a dual case for pairs of things.  There is a reason why Pythagoras gets into number theory so much, it is roughly contemporary with the introduction of coinage in which he also played a role. 
I don't know about phonological leveling and how words change in the evolution of language, but Berber counting doesn't look anything like Indo-European counting to me.  I am not saying your wrong, I am saying that I don't see it.

Posted By: Viewpoint
Date Posted: 30 May 2017 at 05:47
Wouldn't you say that tlata is similar to three, and that setta and sebea like six and seven, more similar than could be accounted for by just chance? I can see other similarities, but I'll grant you they are more distant.

Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 31 May 2017 at 05:10
It vaguely looks similar, but I am not a linguist and I don't really know how phonological change happens.  I do know that 't's and 'd's are closely related, and so are 'p's and 'b's and 'v's, but I don't really know how linguistic change works, I do know that there are rules to it, which are not as rigid as the laws of science, but do show how language works with some regularity.  

What I am saying is that my approval or disapproval of what you (think you) see, is not worth very much.  I am no expert, but what I think an expert would say is look at how language changes, and if after looking at how language changes, it still looks like there is a similarity, well there is more of a chance the similarity reflects a real commonality and not just chance appearance in language. 

Posted By: Viewpoint
Date Posted: 20 Oct 2017 at 01:05
Since I posted this thread, I've learnt a little more about genetics. YDNA haplogroup R is not descended directly from N; they are both descended from yDNA haplogroup K.

Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 26 Oct 2017 at 13:52
hello Viewpoint you said:
Quote My Explanation is that the counting system was borrowed; Afro-Asiatic is much older than Indo-European and the ancient Semitic peoples with their sheep and goat herding were the first to develop numeracy and trade as we know it today.

I agree because the Natufians find themselves on the edge of the Euphrates Abu Hureyra (10500 – 6000 B.C.). Natufians had to leave the Jordan Valley as it became a desert. 

Do you think by 850 BC there would have existed a system for trade and keeping count? Natufians date from Gobekli Tepe 11,000 years ago." rel="nofollow -
4. This survival strategy becomes full-fledged cultivation as climate improves. Bigger reserves and larger populations now result in true, year-long sedentism. This is the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. [List adapted with modifications from C. Maisels, Early Civilizations of the Old World, Routledge 1999)

Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)

Posted By: Viewpoint
Date Posted: 15 Jan 2018 at 06:56
I think that a trading system would have existed long before 850 BC Vanuatu. Obviously, writing as we know it and written records only go back so far, but numeracy and primitive tally marks go back muck further. The word "score" which is still London slang for twenty was originally just a mark on a piece of wood. I    think new discoveries about the Natufians will continue to be made; we owe much of our civilisation to them.

Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 18 Jan 2018 at 01:20

Do you consider the cultural implications of numerology, symbolism and the various psychic vibrations associated with numbers, to be a factor in writing similarities found between distinct cultures?

Recently read on the subject of Natufian origins; seems they are dissimilar to the people of the Danube Gorge, Western Mediterranean or Central European populations. 

Natufians have some cultural similarity to the Catal Hoyuk, Tarzian people (burying the dead in the dwelling) had incisor evulsion similar to Moroccan and Sub Saharan peoples who are effectively bred-out before Neolithic farming. 

The idea of similarity suggests knowing and I don't think DNA can answer every origin question. It does mean at least to my way of thinking that concepts of trade, value and the thought of numbers is not something that can be checked by a written record.
It gets interesting when DNA samples are combined. 

Loring Brace:" rel="nofollow -
There are some generalizations that are apparent from the picture presented in both the greater individual numbers of twigs shown in" rel="nofollow - Fig. 1  and the combined pattern shown in" rel="nofollow - Fig. 3 . When the maximum number of twigs is plotted, despite the very small numbers involved, the Late Pleistocene samples from Israel, Europe, and North Aftica tend to link to each other before they tie to the modern representatives of each of the areas in question, as shown in" rel="nofollow - Fig. 1 . In that run, the Natufian of Israel ties to the French Mesolithic and then to the Afalou/Taforalt sample from North Africa. These then link with the European Upper Palaeolithic sample and, somewhat surprisingly, with the Chandman (the Mongolian Bronze Age sample) and finally, at the next step, with the Danish Neolithic. One of the things that these geographically diverse groups clearly have in common is a degree of robustness that sets them apart from the recent inhabitants of the areas in which they are found.

Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)

Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 18 Jan 2018 at 03:08
Animals have numerical concepts, proven recently in experiments that compared the addition and subtraction skills of monkeys to college students. Monkeys answered correctly 76% college students were correct 94%. The nuance of language keeps monkeys and some tribal cultures from advancing in math but nascent ability or at least an understanding of one, two, few and many is found. Infants process color on the left side of the brain, while adults process from the right hemisphere where our language centers are located. Could it be the same for numbers? If so then counting must be utterly primal.
Lower link describes the study in detail." rel="nofollow -

Numerical thought with and without words: Evidence from indigenous Australian children" rel="nofollow -

Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)

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