Two numerals: “six” and “hundred,” part 2: “hundred”

Like the history of some other words denoting numbers, the history of hundred is full of sticks and stones. To begin with, we notice that hundred, like dozen, thousand, million, and billion, is a
Philosophy News image
Like the history of some other words denoting numbers, the history of hundred is full of sticks and stones. To begin with, we notice that hundred, like dozen, thousand, million, and billion, is a noun rather than a numeral and requires an article (compare six people versus a hundred people); it also has a regular plural (a numeral, to have the plural form, has to be turned into a noun, or substantivized, as in twos and threes, at sixes and sevens, on all fours, and the like). Finally, it resembles and indeed is a compound (hund-red). Eleven and twelve are also compounds (see the previous post), but, to use a technical term, disguised ones, that is, we can hardly or not at all discern their ancient elements. However, though hundred does fall into two parts, neither hund- nor –red means anything to a modern speaker. Before going on, let us note that in the remotest past people hardly needed words designating exact high numbers. One sheep, two sheep…, perhaps ten sheep, and then a. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

blog comments powered by Disqus