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Numbers

Postby tienyew » Tue Oct 27, 2009 10:11 am

Hi, I hope this hasn't been asked before but the search feature doesn't seem to go back very far...
I'm a bit confused about the usage of ordinals and cardinals... I've seen capitulum tertium, pagina tertia, etc... English idiom, however, demands chapter three, page three, rather than its ordinals... Why is this so and do we see, in latin, capitulum tres?
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Re: Numbers

Postby benissimus » Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:45 am

In older English texts (such as the ones you can download on this website) you will see "Chapter the Third" and such. I think "Chapter Three" is a newer convention, possibly from an ignorant misreading of "Chapter III" as "chapter three" rather than "chapter the third", but that's just a guess.

You will not see "capitulum tres" in Latin, as far as I am aware.
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Re: Numbers

Postby Essorant » Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:38 pm

We still use the ordinals that way for Kings and Queens. For example, "Henry the Eighth" instead of "Henry Eight"
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Re: Numbers

Postby tienyew » Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:06 am

Thanks for the replies Essorant and Benissimus...

I was surprised to see Chapter the Third, and it makes more sense despite it being strange to hear... I looked at the other Romance languages and it seems, based on my Latin knowledge, that they all use ordinals... Heck, even Chinese uses ordinals... I guess English has some really strange conventions if you really scrutinize...
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Re: Numbers

Postby Damoetas » Sat Dec 19, 2009 6:19 pm

benissimus wrote:In older English texts (such as the ones you can download on this website) you will see "Chapter the Third" and such. I think "Chapter Three" is a newer convention, possibly from an ignorant misreading of "Chapter III" as "chapter three" rather than "chapter the third", but that's just a guess.


Perhaps the simplest explanation is that expressions like "Chapter the Third" do not fit the larger patterns of English usage. If you think about it, ordinals usually precede the noun they modify: the ninth inning, the third quarter, our 43rd president. Cardinals, when used to describe a noun, come after it: Area 51, Slaughterhouse-Five, District 9.

One can always chalk up a historical change to "ignorance," but usually more insight can be gained by looking at the broader structures of the language and seeing what internal logic is being followed.
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Re: Numbers

Postby Essorant » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:06 pm

"Three" in "chapter three" is also not an adjective, but is a noun or name just as "Alfred" is in "King Alfred" . It doesn't actually mean "three" (Otherwise it should be "three chapters" instead of "chapter three"), but instead means "the number three itself, or state of being where number three is, the third place, etc"
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