Numeral systems in Alor-Pantar languages

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter presents an in-depth analysis of numeral forms and systems in the
Alor-Pantar (AP) languages. The AP family reflects a typologically rare combination of mono-morphemic ‘six’ with quinary forms for numerals ‘seven’ to ‘nine’, a pattern which we reconstruct to go back to proto-AP. We focus on the structure of cardinal numerals, highlighting the diversity of the numeral systems involved. We reconstruct numeral forms to different levels of the AP family, and argue that AP numeral systems have been complicated at different stages by reorganisations of patterns of numeral formation and by borrowings. This has led to patchwork numeral systems in the modern languages, incorporating to different extents: (i) quaternary, quinary and decimal bases; (ii) additive, subtractive and multiplicative procedures, and; (iii) non-numeral lexemes such as ‘single’ and ‘take away’. Complementing the historical reconstruction with an areal perspective, we compare the numerals in the AP family with those of the Austronesian languages in their immediate vicinity and show that contact-induced borrowing of forms and structures has affected numeral paradigms in both AP languages and their Austronesian neighbors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Alor-Pantar languages
Subtitle of host publicationHistory and typology
EditorsMarian Klamer
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherLanguage Science Press
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameStudies in Diversity Linguistics
ISSN (Print)2363-5568


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