Counting in Cèmuhî
Cèmuhî, or Camuki, is a Kanak, or New Caledonian, language belonging to the Oceanic language family, and ultimately to the Austronesian language family. It is spoken in New Caledonia in the communes of Touho, Koné and Poindimié, in the Paici-Camuki customary area. Cèmuhî is spoken by around 3,300 people.
Due to lack of data, we can only count accurately up to 100 in Cèmuhî. Please contact me if you can help me counting up from that limit.
Cèmuhî numbers list
- 1 – céiu
- 2 – alo
- 3 – cié
- 4 – paa
- 5 – nim
- 6 – bwö mu céiu wön
- 7 – bwö mu alo wön
- 8 – bwö mu cié wön
- 9 – bwö mu paa wön
- 10 – pajulu
- 11 – pajulu kè céiu
- 12 – pajulu kè alo
- 13 – pajulu kè cié
- 14 – pajulu kè paa
- 15 – pajulu kè nim
- 16 – pajulu kè bwö mu céiu pwön
- 17 – pajulu kè bwö mu alo pwön
- 18 – pajulu kè bwö mu cié pwön
- 19 – pajulu kè bwö mu paa pwön
- 20 – céiu apulip
- 30 – céiu apulip kè pajilu
- 40 – alo apulip
- 50 – alo apulip kè pajilu
- 60 – cié apulip
- 70 – cié apulip kè pajilu
- 80 – paa apulip
- 90 – paa apulip kè pajilu
- 100 – nim apuliè
Counting on one’s fingers in cèmuhî
On the fingers of the hand, we start with the little finger and end with the thumb from one to five. From six to ten, the counting starts with the thumb, which is folded towards the palm of the hand, and so on down to the little finger for pajulu, ten.
Cèmuhî 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 from zero to five are rendered by specific words. After five, we get the expression “/bwö/mu/céiu/pwö-n”, which literally means “marker/stay, put/one /on top/ it”. Thus, we have, ticè , céiu , alo , cié , paa , nim , bwö mu céiu wön  (5+1), bwö mu alo wön  (5+2), bwö mu cié wön  (5+3), and bwö mu paa wön  (5+4).
- Tens are formed on a vigesimal base (or base-20), the word for twenty, apulip, meaning man: pajulu , céiu apulip  (one man), céiu apulip kè pajilu  (one man and ten, 20+10), alo apulip  (two men, 2*20), alo apulip kè pajilu  (two men and ten, 2*20+10), cié apulip  (three men, 3*20), cié apulip kè pajilu  (three men and ten, 3*20+10), paa apulip  (four men, 4*20), and paa apulip kè pajilu  (four men and ten, 4*20+10).
- Compound numbers from eleven to fifteen are formed starting with the word for ten (pajulu), followed by the conjunction kè and the unit (e.g.: pajulu kè paa ). From sixteen to nineteen, compound numbers are formed the same way, the final wön being replaced by pwön (e.g.: pajulu kè bwö mu alo pwön ).
- Compound numbers beyond twenty are formed starting with the ten, then the conjunction kè and the unit (e.g.: alo apulip kè pajilu kè paa , paa apulip kè pajilu kè bwö mu alo pwön ).
- One hundred is nim apuliè , or five men.
Write a number in full in Cèmuhî
Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Cèmuhî. 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.
Dictionnaire cèmuhî-français: suivi d’un lexique français-cèmuhî
by Jean Claude Rivierre, editors Peeters (2000)
Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages
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