Hi. I wrote above about weights, measures, and currencies, and how with appropriate units, you shouldn't need large numbers.
With the year 2010 nearly upon us, I've been thinking about the other kind of numbers -- numbers that don't represent quantities, but instead are just arbitrary identifiers like phone numbers, street numbers, or calendar dates.
These numbers seem to usually have special readings.
* There seems to be a consensus that 2010 is going to be called "twenty-ten", not "two-thousand-ten". The year 1984 was always "nineteen-eighty-four", never "one thousand nine hundred and eighty-four".
* Here in Toronto, there's a highway called the 401, which is always pronounced "four-oh-one", never "four hundred and one". (But highway 400 is "four hundred".) There's an article on chicago.straightdope.com about how street numbers like 12513 are always "one twenty-five thirteen" in Chicago, and 10358 is always "one oh-three fifty-eight". (But 6800 is "sixty-eight-hundred".)
* In Chinese, there are special words for 20 and 30 that are only used in calendar dates.
It seems to me that for numbers that don't represent actual quantities, people just say whatever is shortest and quickest to say. They never say numbers greater than 100, unless that number is an even multiple of 100. In Toki Pona, I suspect people will just read out the digits individually. 1984 will be "wan luka-tu-tu luka-tu-wan tu-tu". 10358 will be "wan ala tu-wan luka luka-tu-tu". Same for phone numbers.
I think we need two systems of writing numbers in Toki Pona. For quantities, I think the "roman" numerals (suggested in another thread) is quite sufficient. You can write AAAMMLTW and read it as "ale-ale-ale-mute-mute-luka-tu-wan". Though, maybe word for 500 would be nice. (sewi?) But I don't think we need any words for 1000 or greater. If you use the metric system, you never need a quantity greater than 1000. Even when talking about money, people don't usually say $150,000 -- they say 150 grand.
For numbers that don't represent quantities, I think it's easier to write them in European "arabic" numerals (e.g. 123-456-7890), and just read them digit-by-digit in TP.
Last edited by janTe
on Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:53 am, edited 1 time in total.