Thir house teen

ParkvallHere’s something I would have added to chapter 35 of Lingo if only I had known it at the time. According to Swedish linguist Mikael Parkvall, several Celtic languages have discontinous numerals. The example he mentions is from Irish: while the word for 13 is trí déag, ‘13 houses’ is trí theach déag, with the word for ‘house’ in the middle. ‘Thir house teen’ would be a clumsy rendering in English. These Celtic complications are not entirely unique, Parkvall adds: several African and indigenous American languages display similar phenomena. If you like this sort of thing, get your hands on a copy of his book Limits of language, as it’s full of nuggets like this. Continue reading