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Language and Lexicon
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Indo-European Numerals: Slavonic Elements

[...] The numerical system of Istro-Rumanian, which survives in two small areas in north-west Yugoslavia [now Croatia], has been extensively contaminated by the Slavonic (more specifically, Croatian) speech of the surrounding areas. This topic has been most recently studied by H. A. Hurren in his unpublished D. Phil, thesis, A linguistic description of Istro-Rumanian (Oxford 1972), from which the following information is taken.

The numerals 'one' to 'four' are virtually identical with those of Daco-Rumanian. viz. un [rhoatized as ur],  doi, trei. patru. For 'five', 'six' and 'seven* (also 'twenty-five' to 'twenty-seven', 'thirty-five' to 'thirty-seven', etc.). both Rumanian forms, cinci, şase, şapte, and forms derived from Croatian, [pet], (šest], [sédəm], are in use. For 'eight' the northern area uses both Rum. opt and Croatian [osam], and the southern area this latter form only; for 'nine' both use Croatian [devet]; for 'ten', the north uses Croatian [deset] and the south Rum. zece. The teens, decads and hundreds are uniformly of Croatian origin, e.g. [jedanájst] 'eleven', [tšjetərnajst] 'fourteen', [dvájset] 'twenty', [pedesét] "šišty', [sto] 'hundred', [dvisto] 'two hundred', etc.56

The ordinals up to "tenth* are formed from the cardinal with the addition of -ile masc. and -a fern., regardless of whether the cardinal is of Rumanian or Slavonic origin; the only major exception — there are some other minor differences between cardinal and ordinal — is 'first' which, in contrast to the cardinal, has a stem of Slavonic origin; the following forms are those of the northern dialect: [pərvile]. [pərva| 'first'; dovile, doua 'second'; treile treia 'third'; [osmile]. opta/[osma] 'eighth'; devetile, deveta 'ninth'; desetile, deseta 'tenth'. Also patrile 'fourth', cincile "fifth', şasile 'sixth', şaptile 'seventh' and corresponding feminine forms.

[Ed. note: We have substituted the Croatian letter "š" in several locations where the author used the archane letter "ƒ", which is equivalent to the sound made in the Italian "sci".]


  • Jadranka Gvozdanović (Ed.). Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monograph 57 - Indo European Numerals, Mouton de Gruyter (formerly Mouton, The Hague) a division of Walter de Gruyter & Co. (Berlin, 1992), 13.11. Slavonic elements, p. 486. Courtesy of Google Books.

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Created: Tuesday, August 24, 2010; Last Updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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