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Counting in Huli

Language overview

Forty-two in Huli Huli belongs to the Engan languages family of Papuan languages of the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Spoken by the Huli people of the Hela Province, it counts about 150,000 native speakers. The Huli language has the specificity of having a pentadecimal (or base-15) numeral system, based on body-parts: Huli people count on their fingers, but also on their chest, ears, eyes and nose.

Due to lack of data, we can only count accurately up to 104 in Huli. Please contact me if you can help me counting up from that limit.

Huli numbers list

  • 1 – kira
  • 2 – tebira
  • 3 – maria
  • 4 – duria
  • 5 – waragaria
  • 6 – karia
  • 7 – halira
  • 8 – dira
  • 9 – pira
  • 10 – bearia
  • 11 – hombearia
  • 12 – haleria
  • 13 – deria
  • 14 – nguira
  • 15 – nguira-ni mbira
  • 16 – nguira-ni kira
  • 17 – nguira-ni tebira
  • 18 – nguira-ni maria
  • 19 – nguira-ni duria
  • 20 – nguira-ni waragaria
  • 30 – ngui ki, ngui tebone-gonaga mbira
  • 40 – ngui ki, ngui tebone-gonaga bearia
  • 50 – ngui tebo, ngui mane-gonaga waragaria
  • 60 – ngui ma, ngui dauni-gonaga mbira
  • 70 – ngui ma, ngui dauni-gonaga bearia
  • 80 – ngui dau, ngui waragane-gonaga waragaria
  • 90 – ngui waraga, ngui kane-gonaga mbira

Huli 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).

  • The Huli language has a pentadecimal numeral system, i.-e. of base fifteen. Thus, we can consider numbers from one to fourteen as digits, and fifteen itself as “ten”. Each number root is suffixed by either -ra or -ria, which denotes an object is counted.
  • Digits from one to fourteen are: mbira [1], kira [2], tebira [3], maria [4], duria [5], waragaria [6], karia [7], halira [8], dira [9], pira [10], bearia [11], hombearia [12], haleria [13], and deria [14].
  • Tens are formed by setting the word for fifteen (ngui), followed by the root of the multiplier digit separated with a space, except for fifteen itself: ngui [15] (1015), ngui ki [30] (15*2, or 2015), ngui tebo [45] (15*3, or 3015), ngui ma [60] (15*4, or 4015), ngui dau [75] (15*5, or 5015), and ngui waraga [90] (15*6, or 6015). We can suppose the system goes on, but we only know the Huli tens up to ninety (in base-10) at the moment.
  • From sixteen (1115) to twenty-nine (1E15), compound numbers are formed by adding the suffix -ni to the fifteen word, followed by the unit separated by a space: nguira-ni mbira [16] (15+1), nguira-ni kira [17] (15+2), nguira-ni tebira [18] (15+3), nguira-ni maria [19], nguira-ni duria [20], nguira-ni waragaria [21], nguira-ni karia [22], nguira-ni halira [23], nguira-ni dira [24], nguira-ni pira [25], nguira-ni bearia [26], nguira-ni hombearia [27], nguira-ni haleria [28], and nguira-ni deria [29] (15+14).
  • From thirty-one (2115) to forty-four (2E15), compound numbers are formed starting with the ten, which literally means “fifteen two”, followed by the expression ngui tebone-gonaga meaning “plus x of the third fifteen”, and the unit (e.g.: ngui ki, ngui tebone-gonaga maria [34] (15*2+4), ngui ki, ngui tebone-gonaga haleria [43]).
  • From forty-six (3115) to fifty-nine (3E15), compound numbers are formed starting with the ten, which literally means “fifteen three”, followed by the expression ngui mane-gonaga meaning “plus x of the fourth fifteen”, and the unit (e.g.: ngui tebo, ngui mane-gonaga tebira [48] (15*3+8), ngui tebo, ngui mane-gonaga hombearia [57]).
  • From sixty-one (4115) to seventy-four (4E15), compound numbers are formed starting with the ten, which literally means “fifteen four”, followed by the expression ngui dauni-gonaga meaning “plus x of the fifth fifteen”, and the unit (e.g.: ngui ma, ngui dauni-gonaga waragaria [66] (15*4+6), ngui ma, ngui dauni-gonaga deria [74]).
  • From seventy-six (5115) to eighty-nine (5E15), compound numbers are formed starting with the ten, which literally means “fifteen five”, followed by the expression ngui waragane-gonaga meaning “plus x of the sixth fifteen”, and the unit (e.g.: ngui dau, ngui waragane-gonaga maria [79] (15*5+4), ngui dau, ngui waragane-gonaga pira [85]).
  • From ninety-one (6115) to one hundred and four (6E15), compound numbers are formed starting with the ten, which literally means “fifteen six”, followed by the expression ngui kane-gonaga meaning “plus x of the seventh fifteen”, and the unit (e.g.: ngui waraga, ngui kane-gonaga karia [97] (15*6+7), ngui waraga, ngui kane-gonaga pira [100]).

Books

Talk Never Dies: The Language of Huli Disputes Talk Never Dies: The Language of Huli Disputes
by , editors Tavistock (1983)
[Amazon.com Amazon.com]

Trans-New Guinea languages

Huli, and Ndom.

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.

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