Conlangs of a Remembrancer

The Speech of Other Worlds

Shshi Numeric System

The Shshi have no real mathematics.  Although they are great builders, their engineering skills are instinctive – a genetic heritage from their days as tiny isopteroids.  The members of the Builder Caste are all blind – they make all their blueprints in their heads, with some occasional help from the Alates, who have eyes.

Therefore, their numbering system remains primitive and based on physiology.  Individuals have antennae with 18 segments; their mouth palps have six segments, and they have six legs.  Consequently, they base their numerical thinking on sixes and they have no numbers beyond 36 (the “two-antennae count” as they put it).  After that, they might say “twice the two-antennae count,” but they are more likely to say simply “many” or “much,” which is expressed by reduplication (e.g., “many stones”: shka’zi| shka’zi|) or sometimes by the use of no’no’il| (adverb meaning “very large”) (e.g., “he speaks much [a lot, a great deal]: ma’gano| no’no’il| ||  To the Shshi (whose average lifespan is 20-25 years) anything older than the Mother (36 years is pretty much a maximum age for a Queen) is simply mysterious ancient history.

Because the numbers are rooted on six, the cardinals proceed as follows:

one: kwi|
two: nis| (in combination, sometimes ni|)
three: son|
four: twi|
five: bis| (in combination, sometimes bi|)
six: dos| (in combination, sometimes do|)

seven (becomes the 2nd number one):  nis’kwi|
eight (the 2nd number two):  nis’nis|
nine (the 2nd number three): nis’son|
ten (the 2nd number four): nis’twi|
eleven (the 2nd number five): nis’bis|
twelve (the 2nd number six): nis’dos|

thirteen (the 3rd number one): son’kwi|

nineteen (the 4th number one): twi’kwi|

twenty-three (the 4th number five): twi’bis|

thirty-six (the 6th number 6): dos’dos|

The Ordinals:

first: kwi’zi| (noun); da’kwi (adj.); kwi’zil| (adv.)
It was the first who arrived: fasht| ↻ kwi’zi| vi| fa’krovot| ||
The name of the First Mother was Kwi’zo’ma’na’ta (literally, of First Mother name was … ): ki| da’kwi| ma’na’ta| loi’zi| ⇆ shet|↻ kwi’zo’ma’na’ta| ||
They arrived first:   shfa’krovot| kwi’zil| ||

Second: ni’zi| (noun);  da’ni| (adj.);  ni’zil| (adv.)
The same pattern applies for the other ordinals:
Third: son’zi|, da’zon|, son’zil|, etc.
Fifth and sixth use the shortened form of the cardinal: bi’zi|, do’zi|
Eighth: nis’ni’zi|
Eleventh: nis’bi’zi|
Twelfth: nis’do’zi|

Other numeral related words:

once (literaly, one happening, one time): kwi’zo| (both noun and adv.)
single, only: kwi’a| (adj.)
Once was enough: kwi’zo| shet| if| ||
I have a single stone: sho’tai| ↻  ka’zi| kwi’a| ||
This is the only stone: ku’a’zi|⇆  she| ↻ ka’zi| kwi’a| ||

singly, only: kwi’a’il|
I am only a Worker: sho| ↻ om’zei| kwi’a’il| ||

twice: ni’zo| (literally, two times, two happenings)
double: ni’a| (adj.)
doubly: ni’a’il| (adv.)
twin (two individual hatched from the same egg): ni’a’zei|
pair or couple: nis’zei (personal) or nis’zi (thing)
Twins emerge from one egg: shni’a’zei| |⇆  shfa’gito| kei| kwi| ein| ||
A pair of Warriors approached the rocks (literally, of Warriors pair approached rocks): ki| shpai’zei| nis’zei||⇆ shfa’ya’krovot|↻ shka’zi| ||
A couple of fortresses are beyond the hill (literally, of fortresses couple are beyond hill):  ki| shcha| nis’zi ⇆ shshe| ei| kwai’za’mi| ||

three times, four times, etc., are formed the same way:
three times (thrice): son’zo|
triple, triply: son’a|, son’a’il|
five times (quintuple): bi’zo|
six times: do’zo|


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