SSi Forum

Taking the plunge


Hanterkans! :grinning: In fact, even in Cornish dialect (i.e. English as traditionally spoken in Cornwall) it’s standard to refer to fifty as “half a hundred”.


As far as I’m aware, the new system was designed to prevent the use of English numbers, which was already happening.

I read some serious research a few years ago that said, yes, it most definitely does help with maths.


Having taught maths to very young primary children in English, I can vouch for the fact that ANYTHING that makes the Base 10 number system more obvious to them is a bonus! Some could see it straight away, but for others having numbers called twelve and thirteen just didn’t make it easy for them to understand. One ten and two would have been a lot better!


There’s an excellent insight into the two number systems and how they came about in Gareth Ffowc Roberts’ “Mae Pawb yn Cyfrif” (also available in English under the title “Count Us In”) - but it’s rather too long to explain here! It might be available in libraries to borrow - it’s certainly available in various well-known online stores to buy!

(no, I’m not on commission, I was just very impressed with the book!)


Yes. The research looked at maths absorption in far eastern cultures that use relatively simple and logical numbering systems very akin to the ‘new’ Welsh system, and they found that children ‘get’ numbers and the relationship between them (that is to say they internalise them so they don’t have to think about them) much quicker than first language English speakers.


It may well work in that respect, but engineering such a fundamental part of the language, something that has persisted for at least one millenia, has always felt wrong to me.

Kids will invariably use eleven, twelve, thirteen, because the words flow better as the pronunciation edges have been knocked off through use - as have the old Welsh numbers and many teachers and assistants in my area will prefer the English numbers as well, which to me negates many of the benefits.

I can’t imagine anything other than soixante dix neuf or quatre vingt dix huit in French and they produce some of the worlds best engineers, because or maybe in spite of that.


I can’t imagine anything other than soixante dix neuf or quatre vingt dix huit in French

I guess you haven’t visited Quebec, Belgium or Switzerland then where “septante” and “nonante” are widely (even exclusively) used. All three produce excellent engineers, BTW


I was going to say, that’s all very well to make maths easier for really young kids, but then how far do we go in ironing out all the irregularities and peculiarities and quirks of a language to make it “easier”? You could eliminate all the inconsistencies in English spelling and grammar as well as in the counting system (and eleven and twelve are really the only totally inconsistent names for numbers that we have) — but although what you’d be left with might be “easier to learn”, one could argue it wouldn’t be English any more. Same goes for Welsh or Cornish or any other language that’s been shaped by centuries of being spoken by human beings. :worried:

That said, I can see the case for switching to a base 10 system in Cornish as well — one could argue that a revived language won’t be taken seriously in the modern world, especially in science and technology fields, if the counting system sounds like it’s stuck in the eighteenth century. But I don’t think it’d be a good idea to drop the old system entirely. Or else what else should we get rid of to make it “easier” — mutations, or the other quirks of grammar that happen not to be the same as English? Kernewek at least has already been killed off once without us doing it again…


Actually, that’s an education thing - and it’s much more that the older generation will count in English - kids who’ve been through Welsh medium education are much more likely to use Welsh numbers… :slight_smile:


If I had £1 14s 3d 3 farthings for all the dozens or scores or even gross of times I’d heard nostalgia for our “good old” numbers and units, I’d have more than £231 18s 7 1/4d. :laughing:


Meanwhile, this is all a bit rich coming from a country (the UK as a whole, I mean) where everyone still measures in miles, if not feet and inches as well, while the rest of us (except the US of course) went 100% metric decades and decades ago… :slight_smile:


I would like to debate this one further, but I sense it’s a really sensitive issue with strong differences of opinion and happy to let it go - I feel strongly, but don’t want to risk getting banned for a difference of opinion on numbers.


don’t want to risk getting banned for a difference of opinion

That’s never going to happen, cyfaill. This forum thrives on exchanges of opinion expressed in a friendly and respectful manner. :smile:


What’s “cyfaill”, out of interest? I’m guessing it might be a cognate of “koweth”, which is “friend” in Cornish. (Or else possibly “kyfeyth”, which is “jam”… :yum: )


As you guessed, “cyfaill” means friend - plural “cyfeillion”. There may be a subtle difference between “ffrind” and “cyfaill”, but I’m not fluent enough to know. :smile:


Back on topic, I’ve just started Level 1 Challenge 2… is it just me, or is there far less time being given for my answers in this one? I’ve only learned one new word so far (in the first couple of minutes) and can remember most of what I learned in Challenge 1 — I’m sure I’m answering at about the speed I’d got up to before — but Catrin keeps interrupting before I’ve finished. :dizzy_face:


Catrin keeps interrupting before I’ve finished

Yeah, she keeps doing that. :laughing:
Although I’m working with the Southern course, I’m very familiar with the Northern challenges and recognise what you’re describing very well. From my own experience, it will become easier as you press on. Dal ati. :smile: Others may have more specific and helpful advice.


Well, I can always use the pause button a bit more… :slight_smile: What’s “dal ati”? “Still…” — I’m guessing something like “keep going”?


Right again! :smile: - “keep going” or “keep at it”.

I have to confess that I am breaking the forum rule of writing in English (except in the dedicated Welsh thread) or providing a translation. My excuse is that the context has made it easy to guess the meaning - as you have ably confirmed. :smile:


My a vynn’sa skrifa taklow yn Kernewek ynwedh, mes… the same as you’ve written above. :wink: