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Numbers

Numbers are a special type of word used to quantify nouns, verbs, and prepositions.  Numbers can also be used to modify preposition prefixes in a process called selective phrase targeting, as described in the (advanced) Special Phrases lesson.

Numbers can be strung together into long compound words.  Numbers are sometimes turned into nouns for the purpose of expressing numeric concepts and equations.  This is discussed in more depth in the (advanced) Noun Forms lesson.

Unlike most modern languages, Primal script doesn't use an Arabic digit system.  The only way to express numbers in Primal is to write them out in the long form.

Numbers List

There are twenty-one number words:

Number Pronounced Meaning   Number Pronounced Meaning
kU (kul) zero   xZ (shii) eleven
Rw (rooh) one   qbk (thoark) twelve
kw (kooh) two   kF (kay) thirteen
qy (thee) three   puX (puhzh) fourteen
kwx (koohsh) four   qg (thohw) fifteen
Yg (yohw) five    
qwx (thoohsh) six   hu (huh) separator
pU (pul) seven   Yr (yur) radix-point
kwT (koohts) eight   Qy (dthee) radix
qyx (theesh) nine   Qr (dthur) radix-exponent
fU (ful) ten   JU (jul) negative

Zero through fifteen are called basic numbers.  The five remaining numbers are found only in compound numbers, and are called numeric markers.

Compound Numbers

Numbers can be strung together into long compound words.  A number begins with JU (jul, "negative") if it is negative.  The decimal point is represented by Yr (yur, "radix-point").

Every three basic numbers, hu (huh, "separator") is inserted to separate a compound number into smaller segments.  This count of every three numbers starts at the decimal point and goes out in both directions.  This is similar to using commas to turn "12345678.0000001" into "12,345,678.000,000,1" for easier reading.  In written Primal, Yr (yur, "radix-point") and hu (huh, "separator") are always preceded by a space.  However, the number is still considered a single compound word.  Here's an example:

  • -72,345.000,1: JUpUkw huqykwxYg YrkUkUkU huRw (jul-pul-kooh h'thee-koohsh-yohw yur-kul-kul-kul h'rooh, "negative seven two separator three four five radix-point zero zero zero separator one")

By default, numbers are base ten.  The basic numbers for ten through fifteen are written when the first two digits of a number are 10 through 15.  For example:

  • 12: qbk (thoark, "twelve")
  • 16: Rwqwx (rooh-thoohsh, "one six")
  • 1,000: fUkUkU (ful-kul-kul, "ten zero zero")
  • 15,005: qg hukUkUYg (thohw h'kul-kul-yohw, "fifteen separator zero zero five")

Notice that no separator is used in the translation for 1,000.  This is because the first two digits are expressed as a single digit, which leaves only three digits in the number.

For special number formats, like phone numbers or social security numbers, the separator may appear in other places (namely, wherever the number would normally be separated).

Radix and Scientific Notation

The marker Qy (dthee, "radix") is used to specify numeric base.  The base of a number is always specified in base sixteen.  The number Qy (dthee, "radix") appears at the end of a compound number, followed immediately by the base.  For example:

  • 210, base 8: kwRwkU QykwT (kooh-rooh-kul dthee-koohts, "two one zero radix eight")
  • 210, base 16: kwRwkU QyRwkU (kooh-rooh-kul dthee-rooh-kul, "two one zero radix one zero")

In written Primal, Qy (dthee, "radix") and Qr (dthur, "radix-exponent") are always preceded by a space, just like Yr (yur, "radix-point") and hu (huh, "separator").

The marker Qr (dthur, "radix-exponent") is used to specify the exponent for scientific notation.  When a base is also specified, Qy (dthee, "radix") should appear first.  The number JU (jul, "negative") may precede the exponent.  The exponent follows the same base as the number.

  • 3 x (base 10)11: qy QrxZ (thee dthur-shii, "three radix-exponent eleven")
  • -11.3 x (base 8)-132: JUqyx Yrqy QykwT QrJUxZkw (jul-theesh yur-thee dthee-koohts dthur-jul-shii-kooh, "negative nine radix-point three radix eight radix-exponent negative eleven two")

What happened in the last example?  The reason "11" becomes qyx (theesh, "nine") and "13" becomes xZ (shii, "eleven") is because "11" is base-8 for the number 9, and "13" is base-8 for the number 11.  While the rule on out-of-base numbers only applies to the initial segment of a number, it applies whatever the base is.  So, the first four digits of any binary number (before the radix point) will translate directly to a single basic number:

  • 11011, base 2: kFRw Qykw (kay-rooh dthee-kooh, "thirteen one radix two")

It is acceptable to say the initial numbers directly in base rather than use the shortened form, but Primal speakers do not commonly do this (so it isn't recommended).

Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers

When numbers become nouns, they mean different things depending on the noun prefix used:

Number Pronounced Meaning Description
nukw (n'kooh) indefinite two The number two.
Qukw (dth'kooh) a two Second place.
vukw (v'kooh) plural two Multiple 2's (multiple pairs).
jukw (ch'kooh) each-of two Each of the 2's (every two).
Jukw (j'kooh) all-of two All of the 2's.
,lukw (l'kooh) none-of two None of the 2's.
QUkw (dthul-kooh) some-of two Some of the 2's.
Rukw (r'kooh) this two Every other place.  (Every second place.)
Rykw (ree-kooh) these two These 2's.
kukw (k'kooh) proper two The name "Two."

The prefixes nu (nuh, "indefinite"), Qu (dthuh, "a"), and Ru (ruh, "this") are most commonly used with numbers.  The prefix nu (nuh, "indefinite") gives the number its standard cardinal meaning, and is used with equations as described in the (advanced) Noun Forms lesson.  The prefixes Qu (dthuh, "a") and Ru (ruh, "this") have ordinal meaning, similar to English numeric concepts "third" and "every third".

Appending Jw (jooh, "anti") to the end of an ordinal number causes the order to be reversed:

  • last place: QuRwJw (dth'rooh-jooh, "a one anti")
  • next-to-last place: QukwJw (dth'kooh-jooh, "a two anti")

This works whenever a number is ordinal, even if it isn't a noun (such as, if it's enumerating a noun or verb).  See the Enumerating Words section of this lesson for examples.

As described in the (advanced) Noun Forms lesson, any compound number that becomes a noun must also take a noun suffix.

Enumerating Words

Nouns can be followed by a number to indicate quantity or order.  The meaning of the number depends on the noun prefix used with the noun, just as it does with cardinal and ordinal numbers.  If no prefix is used, the general cardinal meaning associated with nu (nuh) is assumed.  Examples:

  • three people: fr qy (fur thee, "person three")
  • sets with three people each: vufr qy (v'fur thee, "plural person three")
  • every third person, starting from the back: Rufr qyJw (r'fur thee-jooh, "this person three anti")

The pronoun Yy (yee, "that") carries special meaning when enumerated, as described in the (advanced) Special Phrases lesson.

Verbs can also be followed by a number to indicate quantity or order.  For verbs, the default meaning is ordinal.  When a verb prefix's trailing consonant is -,T (-ts, "-repeatedly"), the verb instead has cardinal meaning:

  • call up for the third time: kyT qy (keets thee, "call-up three")
  • call up three times: quTkyT qy (thuhts-keets thee, "present-repeatedly call-up three")
  • call up for the last time: kyT RwJw (keets rooh-jooh, "call-up one anti")

Prepositions can be followed by a number to indicate a number of iterations.  Since a direction is implied by most prepositions, the meaning is usually ordinal:

  • third to the left (left three times): Wu qy (w'thee, "left three")
  • third from the right (start rightmost, then left three times): Wu qyJw (w'thee-jooh, "left three anti")
  • once around (or, single bypass): Yi Rw (yih rooh, "around one")

When used with numbers that enumerate prepositions, Jw (jooh, "anti") means to start in the position furthest from the direction indicated.  Without Jw (jooh, "anti"), the position to start from is not specified and must be determined from context.

Modifying Preposition Prefixes

Numbers can also be used in a special process called selective phrase targeting.  In this process, a preposition prefix is modified by a basic number, which then becomes part of a compound preposition (it loses the "number" part of speech).  The process is discussed in detail in the (advanced) Special Phrases lesson.

It's important to be able to differentiate between simple preposition enumeration and selective phrase targeting.  This topic is also discussed in the (advanced) Special Phrases lesson.

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