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Saying large numbers in foreign languages - different from English?

(12 Posts)
Plumpcious Mon 12-Feb-18 13:56:19

I was recently in France and confused the hotel receptionist by saying my room number was "3 - 0 - 7". At first I thought it was because I'd said "oh" not "zero" but it turns out in France they would say "three-hundred-and-seven".

That got me thinking about saying other large numbers. I know phone numbers in French and Spanish are split into two-digit numbers (eg 45 78 32 instead of 4-5-7-8-3-2 as in English). For bus numbers in English I would use single digits for any number over 100 (88 would be "eighty-eight" but 188 would be "one-eight-eight"). Likewise for addresses, numbers over 100 I would say as single digits.

How does it work in other languages? Do some use the single-digit method too? Does it depend on the situation and the size of the number?

And is there a name that describes what I'm talking about, ie saying numbers other than for the purpose of counting?

MongerTruffle Mon 12-Feb-18 14:11:33

Even within dialects of English there is some difference.
In American English:
135 = one hundred thirty-five
5200 = fifty-two hundred
In British English:
135 = one hundred and thirty-five
5200 = five thousand two hundred

And is there a name that describes what I'm talking about, ie saying numbers other than for the purpose of counting?
There isn't one that I know of. Cardinal numbers are used to express quantity, e.g. one, two, three. Ordinal numbers are used to describe a position of something in a list, e.g. first, second, third.

In my native language, Polish*, numbers are used in exactly the same way as in France.

Of course there is also the difference in notation. In most Indo-European languages other than English:
ten thousand and thirty-four point five = 10 034,5
In English it would be written 10,034.5 or 10 034.5.

In many languages the currency symbol goes after the number, 10,34€; 10,- €, 10 €, 10,- kr etc. The EU guidelines for using the Euro sign is that it should be placed in front of the number, without spaces (€10).

* I have lived in the UK since I was three, so this is based on my experiences and not on what I would have learnt in formal education.

Plumpcious Mon 12-Feb-18 14:32:37

Aha! "Nominal number" seems to be the (relatively new) term.

AppleAndElderflower Sat 17-Feb-18 22:32:09

I'm originally from Malaysia. Our numbers are minimum 2 syllables, maximum 3 syllables.

0 - Kosong
1 - Satu
2 - Dua
3 - Tiga
4 - Empat
5 - Lima
6 - Enam
7 - Tujuh
8 - Lapan
9- Sembilan
10 - Sepuluh

It gets tiring saying the full numbers, and such a mouthful, and so we shorten them in conversations to just mainly the first letter + the last syllable.

Imagine saying numbers in 100s & 1000s... I get fed-up. So I just prefer to count out loud in English, or if in my head, I'll use the Malay language.

Phone numbers are said individually too instead of being paired in 2s or 3s say like in German.

I've just realised why I now prefer to use English most of the time😆🤦 I've been in the UK since I was 17, so that might've contributed to the language preference as well.

BIWI Sat 17-Feb-18 22:33:35

Chinese is very confusing. So much so I can't even describe how they count their numbers!

BIWI Sat 17-Feb-18 22:34:12

(I mean, I know how they count 1-10, but how they count for 100s, 1000s, 10,000s etc is different from us!)

TheWizardofWas Sat 17-Feb-18 22:40:13

I always found phone numbers funny in German if you are trying to note them, because the order changes
Einunddreizig vierundneunzig etc 31, 94...

Whyareyoudoingthat Wed 28-Mar-18 23:10:56

In South Asia large numbers are named differently. So you have names for:
-'Lakh' = 1,00,000 or 100 thousand
-(10 lakh, or 1 million, has no special name)
-Crore ( pronounced more like 'Krord') = 1,00,00,000 or 10mill
-(10 Krord has no special name)

And so on. Also the comma is placed differently.

Viviene Mon 07-May-18 22:21:29

In Slovenian '22' is 'two and twenty' etc.

Same in Dutch.

Shopgirl1 Fri 11-May-18 13:27:58

Same in German Viviene

KingIrving Sun 03-Jun-18 19:05:55

Nobody mentioned French?
96= four-twenty-sixteen

Skiiltan Tue 26-Jun-18 00:28:31

I used to find writing cheques in German a big effort. Eintausendzweihundertsiebenundzwanzig (DM 1227, about £273 at the time) was quite a big word.

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