Saturday, January 2, 2010

Count On It

It's nice to have been back for the silly seasons but before I wrap things up from the trip and deliver the all important trip statistics I need to fulfill my old year resolution to blog about numbers in Nepali and K.

While I was pleased with my general progress with Nepali during my time away, one thing I totally sucked at was counting, I only managed to reliably count to twelve so that I could tell the time.

To give you a rough idea why it's so hard, here's a website with numbers to thirty:

There is basically no consistent pattern, which means you basically have to learn a hundred separate vocabulary items. I decided to save the lexical space in my brain for more important words - most of them related to food and shopping...

Kagate numbers are also sufficiently fascinating to warrant mentioning here. Like Nepali, they present a small challenge to the learner-speaker because they have not one counting system, but two. One of these systems is base 20.

As an explanation, English counting has a base 10 system, where things work really well in groups of ten, whereas in one of the K. systems things work really well in groups of 20. So, basically, imagine you start counting at 20, and keep going to 29 - instead of 30, it's more like twenty-eleven, twenty-twelve etc. up to twenty-nineteen, and then you get to 40, because it works nicely as two groups of twenty.

And finally, on the topic of numbers, I'll be putting up those all important trip stats in the next few days. Hope you've all had a great holiday season!

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