Counting in Cape Verdean Creole
Cape Verdean Creole (kabuverdianu, língua kabverdian), is a creole language of Portuguese and African languages (mainly Wolof, Mandingo and Temne) spoken on the Cape Verde islands. Not yet standardized, it has a different dialect on each island of the archipelago. Those dialects, or variants, are grouped in two branches: the Sotavento Creoles (south islands) and the Barlavento Creoles (north islands). These different Creoles count globally one million speakers. We will focus here on the Santiago Creole spoken mainly on the Santiago island, one of the Sotavento islands.
Cape Verdean Creole numbers list
- 1 – um
- 2 – dós
- 3 – trés
- 4 – kuátu
- 5 – sinku
- 6 – sax
- 7 – séti
- 8 – oitu
- 9 – nóvi
- 10 – dés
- 11 – ónzi
- 12 – duzi
- 13 – treizi
- 14 – katorzi
- 15 – kinzi
- 16 – dizasax
- 17 – dizaséti
- 18 – dizoitu
- 19 – dizanóvi
- 20 – vinti
- 30 – trinta
- 40 – korénta
- 50 – sunkuénta
- 60 – sasénta
- 70 – saténta
- 80 – oiténta
- 90 – novénta
- 100 – sem
- 1,000 – mil
- one million – um miliom
- one billion – um biliom
Cape Verdean Creole numbering rules
Now that you’ve had a gist of the most useful numbers, let’s move to the writing rules for the tens, the compound numbers, and why not the hundreds, the thousands and beyond (if possible).
- Digits and numbers from zero to fifteen are specific words, namely zéru , um , dós , trés , kuátu , sinku , sax  (or séx), séti , oitu , nóvi , dés , ónzi , duzi , treizi , katorzi , and kinzi . Sixteen to nineteen are regular numbers, i.e. named after the ten and the digit, and written phonetically: dizasax [10 and 6] (or dizaséx), dizaséti [10 and 7], dizoitu [10 and 8], and dizanóvi [10 and 9].
- The tens have specific names based on the matching digits roots except for ten and twenty: dés , vinti , trinta , korénta , sunkuénta , sasénta , saténta , oiténta , and novénta .
- Tens and units are regularly linked with a hyphen. However, tens ending with -a (hence between forty and ninety), see their final -a replaced by -i when combined with a unit (e.g.: vinti-trés , sunkuénti-sax ).
- The names for hundreds are also based on the multiplier digit root, followed by the plural form of hundred, except for one hundred: sem  (séntus in plural), duzéntus , trezéntus , kuátuséntus , kinhéntus , saiséntus , sétuséntus , oituséntus , and nóviséntus .
- When one hundred is followed by a ten or a unit, sem becomes senti- (e.g.: senti-kuátu , senti-trinti-oitu ). The other hundreds are followed by the conjunction i (and) (e.g.: trezéntus-i-oitu , saiséntus-i-sunkuénti-séti ).
- One thousand is said mil, and one million um milliom (sometimes also mil mil). When there are several thousands or millions, they are preceded by their multiplier (e.g.: séti mil [7,000], nóvi miliom [9 million]). However, when followed by hundreds, tens or units, mil becomes mili (e.g.: mili-duzéntus-i-trinti-kuátu [1,234]), and million is followed by the conjunction i (e.g.: sinku miliom i saiséntus [5,000,600]). Beyond one thousand, composed numbers are not preceded by i anymore (e.g.: séti miliom kuátu mili-trezéntus [7,004,300]).
- Cape Verdean Creole uses the short scale for big scale names creation, where every new word greater than a million is one thousand times bigger than the previous term. Thus, um biliom is 109 (one billion), as in English.
Write a number in full in Cape Verdean Creole
Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Cape Verdean Creole. Will you guess how to write a number in full? Enter a number and try to write it down in your head, or maybe on a piece of paper, before displaying the result.
The Syntax of Cape Verdean Creole: The Sotavento Varieties
by Marlyse Baptista, editors John Benjamins Pub Co (2003)
Le créole capverdien de poche
by Nicolas Quint, editors Assimil (2010)
Parlons capverdien : langue et culture
by Nicolas Quint, editors L’Harmattan (2003)
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L’élément africain dans la langue capverdienne (variété de Santiago)
by Nicolas Quint, editors L’Harmattan (2008)
Grammaire de la langue cap-verdienne
by Nicolas Quint, editors L’Harmattan (2000)
Portuguese-based creoles and pidgins
Cape Verdean Creole, and Kristang.
Other supported languages
As the other currently supported languages are too numerous to list extensively here, please select a language from the full list of supported languages.