A Playground of Thoughts > Number Systems of the World



Number Systems of the World

Japanese page

I am collecting number systems of world languages. The languages shown below are listed according to the complexity of the way of counting numbers in my opinion.

I translate words included in number words to English, and I use '+' and '×' for implicit additions and multiplications. For instance, I explain the French words vingt et un (21) and quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (99) as "20 and 1" and "4 × 20 + 10 + 9" respectively.

Please let me know if you find a mistake. A list of numbers in your language is welcome.

Some pages use the character set UTF-8. Latest web browsers automatically choose a proper character set.

Complexity
Rank
LanguageLanguage Family, SubfamilyNative speakers
population
Spoken Area
1Huli
(new)
Trans-New Guinea, Main Section70,000Papua New Guinea
2Ndom
(new)
Trans-New Guinea, Kolopom450Frederik Hendrik Island
(near New Guinea)
3NimbiaAfro-Asiatic, Chadic?Nigeria
4HindiIndo-European, Indo-Iranian182,000,000Northern India
5TzotzilMayan, Cholan-Tzeltalan265,000Mexico
6Ainu(language isolate)15Hokkaidô (Japan)
7AlamblakSepik-Ramu, Sepik1,500Papua New Guinea
8NahuatlUto-Aztecan, Southern Uto-Aztecan1,377,000Mexico
9MalagasyAustronesian, Malayo-Polynesian10,156,900Madagascar
10YorubaNiger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo20,000,000Nigeria, Benin
11Welsh (Traditional)
(new)
Indo-European, Celtic580,000Wales (U.K.)
12BretonIndo-European, Celtic500,000Brittany (France)
13ManxIndo-European, Celtic0Isle of Man (U.K., extinct)
14Scots GaelicIndo-European, Celtic94,000Scotland (U.K.)
15GeorgianSouth Caucasian, Georgian4,103,000Georgia
16DanishIndo-European, Germanic5,292,000Denmark
17JavaneseAustronesian, Malayo-Polynesian75,500,800Java (Indonesia)
18LatinIndo-European, Italic0Italy (extinct)
19FrenchIndo-European, Italic72,000,000France
20ZuluNiger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo9,142,000South Africa
21BasqueBasque580,000Basque (France, Spain)
22ArabicAfro-Asiatic, Semitic0West Asia, North Africa (ancient)
23GandaNiger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo3,025,440Uganda
24MalteseAfro-Asiatic, Semitic370,000Malta
25AssyrianAfro-Asiatic, Semitic217,000Iraq
26KurmanjiIndo-European, Indo-Iranian7,000,000Turkey
27DutchIndo-European, Germanic20,000,000Netherlands
28GermanIndo-European, Germanic98,000,000Germany
29SwahiliNiger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo5,000,000Kenya, Tanzania
30OjibwaAlgic, Algonquian50,000Canada, U.S.
31ItalianIndo-European, Italic37,000,000Italy
32SpanishIndo-European, Italic332,000,000Spain, Latin America
33Swiss FrenchIndo-European, Italic1,272,000Switzerland
34TigrinyaAfro-Asiatic, Semitic6,060,000Eritrea, Ethiopia
35TurkishAltaic, Turkic59,000,000Turkey
36Balkan RomaniIndo-European, Indo-Iranian1,000,000Former Yugoslavia
37HungarianUralic, Finno-Ugric14,500,000Hungary
38TagalogAustronesian, Malayo-Polynesian17,000,000Philippines
39Polari(unclassified)0U.K.
40ScotsIndo-European, Germanic100,000Scotland (U.K.)
41EnglishIndo-European, Germanic322,000,000U.S., U.K., etc.
42NorwegianIndo-European, Germanic5,000,000Norway
43SwedishIndo-European, Germanic9,000,000Sweden
44SukumaNiger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo5,000,000Tanzania
45HawaiianAustronesian, Malayo-Polynesian1,000Hawaii
46FinnishUralic, Finno-Ugric6,000,000Finland
47EstonianUralic, Finno-Ugric1,100,000Estonia
48RomanianIndo-European, Italic1,500,000Romania
49Ancient JapaneseJapanese0Japan (ancient)
50KiribatiAustronesian, Malayo-Polynesian67,000Kiribati
51WolofNiger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo3,215,000Senegal, Gambia
52CroatianIndo-European, Slavic21,000,000Croatia
53SenecaIroquoian, Northern Iroquoian200U.S.
54IndonesianAustronesian, Malayo-Polynesian17,050,000Indonesia
55MandinkaNiger-Congo, Mande914,500Senegal, Gambia
56Wu ChineseSino-Tibetan, Chinese77,175,000Shanghai (China)
57Tok PisinCreole, English-based50,000Papua New Guinea
58VietnameseAustro-Asiatic, Mon-Khmer66,897,000Viet Nam
59IgboNiger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo17,000,000Nigeria
60ThaiDaic, Tai21,000,000Thailand
61Welsh (Modern)
(new)
Indo-European, Celtic580,000Wales (U.K.)
62AymaraAymaran2,200,000Bolivia, Peru
63Cuzco QuechuaQuechuan, Quechua II1,500,000Peru
64Chinook WawaPidgin, Amerindian100Canada, U.S.
65MandarinSino-Tibetan, Chinese885,000,000Northern China
66JapaneseJapanese, Japanese125,000,000Japan
67CantoneseSino-Tibetan, Chinese66,000,000Guangdong (China)
68Esperanto(artificial)200France etc.
69TonganAustronesian, Malayo-Polynesian123,000Tonga


Links:

Numeral Systems of the World's Languages - an excellent site of a comprehensive list of number systems
Numbers from 1 to 10 in Over 4000 Languages
Numerals in Indo-European Dialects

Surprisingly enough, it's proven that Chinese-speaking children are better at counting numbers than English-speaking counterparts because of their language. Bilingual children are better at counting when they think in Chinese than in English. The irregularity of the English number system makes it harder for children to count numbers properly.

English words may hinder math skills development
Counting Ability in Bilingual Children
Visualization and Explicit Number Naming as a Foundation for Children's Early Work in Mathematics
The Mathematical Brain

Return to my homepage

Copyright(C) TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)