Monday, June 8, 2009

the way we name numbers is stupid

Think about it.

The first 10 numbers are OK-- "one, two, three," etc.

But once you get past ten, things get silly. The next two numbers-- eleven and twelve-- have their own name. Then you start with thirteen, fourteen, etc., in which the "teen" identifies that there are an extra "ten" added to the "thir" for a total of thirteen.

Then, we flip-flop that convention and describe the "twenty" first, add a hyphen, and state, after the fact, how many things are in addition to "twenty" (i.e. twenty-four).

I guess my point is this; I like the way the first twenty numbers work-- especially when it comes to telling people your age. When you go from "nine" to "ten" to "eleven" its not such a big deal. Why? Because you kind of "ease your way in" to the next few numbers before finally admitting that you've added a ten.

Here's what I propose: Keep 1-29 the same. (People don't mind being in their 20's; plus, changing those numbers might confuse some people.) But once you get to "thirty"... we start changing them a little bit.

Obviously, 30 becomes "twenty-ten." Now here's where things get a little trixy. I don't think "twenty-eleven" and "twenty-twelve" are going to catch on, so let's go ahead and change 31 to "tweleven." Following that logic, one would presume that 32 now becomes "twe-twelve." Wrong! Why? It just sounds dumb, that's why. Instead, let's call it "twe-eleve" (pronounced "twuuh-ELV"). Or-- if that doesn't catch on either, we can just have two numbers called "twelve" (12 and 32). We would then leave 33-39 the same as they are right now, just like we re-start the "teens" at 13.

Now that we've got 1-39 sorted out, the rest of the numbers pretty-much work themeslves out. 40 becomes "thirty-ten," 41 becomes "threleven," 42 becomes "threlve," and so on. Here's the rest of the modified numbers:

51: foleven
52: forelve
61: fileven
62: flevle
71: sileven ("seh-leven")
72: siwelve
81: seleven ("suh-leven")
82: svelve
91: aleven ("aye-leven")
92: nienty-two** ("nie-EN-tee too")

** I couldn't think of a good-sounding modification to combine "eighty" and "twelve." That said, we should change it to something new anyways-- just for consistency's sake.

OK--I'm counting on you guys to spread the good word!!!

You're welcome.

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