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Numbers in Old English: Cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers:

Basic tableEdit

Numbers, cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers, in Englisc are set out below. The numbers 1-3 however are declined like adjectives and their forms by gender and case are set out in separate tables below. The basic table has the nominative forms only.

Ordinal numbers are all declined like adjectives, as set out in a later table.

No. Cardinal Ordinal
1 an
(but see below)
forma
(but see below)
2 twegen / twa / tu
(but see below)
oþer
(but see below)
3 þrie / þreo
(but see below)
þridde
(but see below)
4 feower feorþa
5 fif fifta
6 siex siexta
7 seofon seofaþa
8 eahta eahtoþa
9 nigon nigoþa
10 tiene teoþa
.
11 endleofan endleofta
12 twelf twelfta
13 þreotiene þreoteoþa
14 feowertiene feowerteoþa
15 fiftiene fifteoþa
16 sixtiene sixteoþa
17 seofontiene seofonteoþa
18 eahtatiene eahtateoþa
19 nigontiene nigonteoþa
.
20 twentig twentigoþa
21 an and twentig an and twentigoþa
.
30 þritig þritigoþa
40 feowertig feowertigoþa
50 fiftig fiftigoþa
60 sixtig sixtigoþa
70 hundseofontig hundseofontigoþa
80 hundeahtatig hundeahtatigoþa
90 hundnigontig hundnigontigoþa
100 hund / hundred / hundteontig hundteontigoþa
110 hundendleofantig hundendleofantigoþa
120 hundtwelftig hundtwelftigoþa
130 hund and þritig hund and þritigoþa
140 hund and feowertig hund and feowertigoþa
.
200 tu hund
300 þreo hund
1000 þusend
2000 tu þusend

Million and billionEdit

There is no word for "million" found in Old English. However:

  • The Homilies contain Þusend ðusenda.
    (Cleasby and Vigfusson quote exactly that construction, þúsund þúsunda, in an Old Norse homiliu-bók.)
  • 1½ million appears in Orosius in the phrase "Ðæt wæron fieftiene hund þusend monna".

In fact, the same sentence in the Homilies contains "million" and "billion" (well, an American billion: 1000,000,000):

Micel getel is ðæra haligra gasta, þe on Godes rice eardiað, be ðam cwæð se witega Daniel, "Þusend ðusenda ðenodon þam Heofonlican Wealdende, and ten ðusend siðan hundfealde ðusenda him mid wunodon."
"Many are counted of the holy ghosts, who inhabit God's kingdom, by whom spoke Daniel the prophet, "A thousand thousand served the Heavenly Lord, and ten thousand times a hundredfold thousands dwelt with him"

HalvesEdit

Something-and-a-half is expressed with the ordinal of the next number:

  • 1 ½ = oþer healf
  • 2½ = þridde healf
  • 9½ = teoþe healf

Also with larger numbers:

  • 350 may be feorþe healf hund

1Edit

An is declined in a strong form. A weak form is available and usually means "alone".

Strong declensionEdit

Masc Fem Neut
nom an an an
acc anne ane an
gen anes anre annes
dat anum anre anum
inst ane anre anne

Weak declensionEdit

Masc Fem Neut
nom anan anan anan
acc anan anan anan
gen anra anra anra
dat anum anum anum
inst anum anum anum

1stEdit

Forma appears only in a weak declension.

Masc Fem Neut
nom forma forme forme
acc forman forma forma
gen forman forman forman
dat forman forman forman
inst forman forman forman

Another word for "first" is ærrst (literally "earliest").

2Edit

Masc Fem Neut
nom twegen twa tu (or twa)
acc twegen twa tu
gen twegra
(or twegea)
twegra
(or twegea)
twegra
(or twegea)
dat twæm twæm twæm

2ndEdit

Oþer (second), alone amongst the ordinal numbers, is always declined as a strong adjective:

Singular:

Masc Fem Neut
nom oþer oþru oþer
acc oþerne oþre oþer
gen oþres oþre oþres
dat oþrum oþre oþrum
inst oþre oþre oþre

bothEdit

Begen (both) is declined exactly like twegen, of which it is a variant, and of course it is always plural:

Masc Fem Neut
nom begen ba ba
acc begen ba bu
gen begra begra begra
dat bæm bæm bæm

3Edit

Masc Fem Neut
nom þrie þreo þreo
acc þrie þreo þreo
gen þreora þreora þreora
dat þrim þrim þrim

3rdEdit

Masc Fem Neut
nom þridde þridde þridde
acc þriddan þriddan þriddan
gen þriddan þriddan þriddan
dat þriddan þriddan þriddan
inst þriddan þriddan þriddan

Other ordinal numbersEdit

Teoþa and all the ordinals from þridde upward, declines as a weak adjective and so is our example here:

Singular:

Masc Fem Neut
nom teoþa teoþe teoþe
acc teoþan teoþan teoþe
gen teoþan teoþan teoþan
dat teoþan teoþan teoþan
inst teoþan teoþan teoþan

Declining numbers above 3Edit

GenerallyEdit

Generally numbers above 3 are undeclined. However if a number stands alone, as a pronoun ("there were five [of them]") then it may take endings like a feminine plural noun. Those ending -tig are sometimes declined as neuter adjectives, but usually undeclined.

Hundred and thousandEdit

Hund and þusend are effectively neuter nouns, usually left undeclined but they may be declined like other neuter nouns.

They take the genitive, so "a hundred men" would be "a hundred of men": hund wera.

Writing numbersEdit

Latin numberals were used by in the Anglo-Saxon period, though not quite in the classical version of the system:

  • The letters are written lower case (and as there is no independent letter v, the Latin V is written u)
  • Subtraction by putting I to the left is not used (so 4 is iiij, not iu)
  • The last i is written with a tail; a j in form, although the letter j had not yet arisen as a letter distinct from i.

Therefore:

  • i = 1
  • ij = 2
  • iij = 3
  • iiij = 4
  • u = 5
  • uj = 6
  • uij = 7
  • uiij = 8
  • uiiij = 9
  • x = 10
  • l = 50
  • c = 100
  • d = 500
  • m = 1,000

Amongst revivalists, Arabic numerals are used, which is very practical and quite acceptable in that context.

(Arabic numbers were introduced to Europe by mediaeval trade and the Norman reconquest of Sicily. One could argue that late Old English was still being spoken as Arabic numerals were first used by Christians.)

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