Danish numbers – how hard can it be?

Danish numbers – how hard can it be?

Danish numbers are easy. “en” is one, “to” is two – and “femoghalvfems” is ninetyfive. That’s because “halvfems” actually is four and a half times twenty. And then you just add the five at front of it. So “femoghalvfems” – easy, right?

The Danish number system is partly a base10 system. Same as most other current languages in the west.

But it’s also partly based on base20 – and this is where it gets complicated.

It’s based on the old value of 20: “snese”. But not until you reach 50…

The first ten’ers er easy, as it’s just some variation of the basic first 9 numbers. Ten is “ti” – or more like “ten”, as this is what you add to the base number:

  • 13 = “tretten”
  • 14 = “fjorten”
  • 15 = “femten”

And then it’s

  • 20 = “tyve”
  • 30 = “tredive”
  • 40 = “fyrre”

And then it goes all wrong. See, 50 is actually halfway to three “snese”. But leaving it just as that would have been easy, so let’s mutate it even more.

Halfway to three in old Danish would be “halvtredje”. Add “snese” to this and you get “halvtredjesnese”. Say this for a lot of times over many years and eventually you will end up with “halvtreds” – where “snese” now just is represented by that last “s”.

  • 50 -> “halv tredje snese” -> “halvtreds”
  • 60 -> “tre snese” -> “tres”
  • 70 -> “halv fjerde snese” -> “halvfjerds”
  • 80 -> “fire snese” -> “firs”
  • 90 -> “halv femte snese” -> “halvfems”

The hundreds you just add in front of the rest, nothing difficult about that.

Oh, you thought that was it? No, then we insist on adding the ones at the beginning. So 51 is actually 1 & 50 – “enoghalvtreds”.

And with this explanation it makes perfectly sense, right?

Perhaps not, since it’s listed as one of “12 Mind Blowing Numbers Systems”… http://ow.ly/MLgU30aHqi1

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