Counting in Nêlêmwa

Language overview

Forty-two in Nêlêmwa The kumak language (or fwa kumak) belongs to the Austronesian language family, and more specifically to the New Caledonian languages. Spoken on the main island of New Caledonia, in its North Province, it counts about 2,000 speakers. Kumak is composed of two main dialects: nêlêmwa, spoken in the Nénémas district by about one thousand speakers, and nixumwak, spoken in the Koumac region.

Due to lack of data, we can only count accurately up to 100 in Nêlêmwa. Please contact me if you can help me counting up from that limit.

Nêlêmwa numbers list

  • 1 – pwa-giik
  • 2 – pwa-du
  • 3 – pwa-gan
  • 4 – pwa-baak
  • 5 – pwa-nem
  • 6 – pwa-nem-giik
  • 7 – pwa-nem-du
  • 8 – pwa-nem-gan
  • 9 – pwa-nem-baak
  • 10 – tujic
  • 11 – tujic xa bwaat pwagiik
  • 12 – tujic xa bwaat pwadu
  • 13 – tujic xa bwaat pwagan
  • 14 – tujic xa bwaat pwabaak
  • 15 – tujic xa bwaat pwanem
  • 16 – tujic xa bwaat pwanemgiik
  • 17 – tujic xa bwaat pwanemdu
  • 18 – tujic xa bwaat pwanemgan
  • 19 – tujic xa bwaat pwanembaak
  • 20 – aaxi ak
  • 30 – aaxi ak xa bwaat tujic
  • 40 – aaru ak
  • 50 – aaru ak xa bwaat tujic
  • 60 – aaxan ak
  • 70 – aaxan ak xa bwaat tujic
  • 80 – aavaak ak
  • 90 – aavaak ak xa bwaat tujic
  • 100 – aanem ak

Nêlêmwa numerical classifiers

Numerical classifiers are nouns used as prefixes for the suffixes digits. They are organized in many categories (Nêlêmwa counts twenty-two categories): animate, shape, plants, type of grouping (heap) or configuration (row), type of presentation (wrapped), type of sampling (portion).
Thus, if we want to count (dead) crabs, we will use the round objects classifier (pwa-), as their shape predominates: pwa-giik shâlaga, one (dead) crab. For living crabs, the animate classifier is used (aa-): aa-giik shâlaga, one (living) crab.

Nêlêmwa 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 one to five are rendered by specific suffixes, and digits beyond five, from six to nine, are formed by suffixing the first four ones to five. The numeral system is thus quinary up to ten, and additive from six to nine. The suffixes from one to nine are: -(x)iik / -(g)iik / -(w)iik [1], -ru / -lu / -du [2], -gan / -xan [3], -baak / -vaak [4], -nem [5], -nem-giik [6] (5 plus 1), -nem-du [7] (5 plus 2), -nem-gan [8] (5 plus 3), and -nem-baak [9] (5 plus 4).
    In order to ease the reading, we will use here the unspecified classifier pwa-. Thus, we have: pwa-giik [1], pwa-du [2], pwa-gan [3], pwa-baak [4], pwa-nem [5], pwa-nem-giik [6], pwa-nem-du [7], pwa-nem-gan [8], and pwa-nem-baak [9].
  • From ten up, numbers are not prefixed with a numerical classifier (only the compound digits are prefixed). Tens follow a vigesimal system: tujic [10], aaxi ak [20] (literally, one man), aaxi ak xa bwaat tujic [30] (20+10), aaru ak [40] (2x20, or two men), aaru ak xa bwaat tujic [50] (2x20 + 10), aaxan ak [60] (3x20, or three men), aaxan ak xa bwaat tujic [70] (3x20 + 10), aavaak ak [80] (4x20, or four men), and aavaak ak xa bwaat tujic [90] (4x20 + 10).
  • Compound numbers are formed by adding the digits to the ten with the conjunction xa (and, as well) and the word bwaa-t (on top, head, summit): tujic xa bwaat pwagiik [11], tujic xa bwaat pwadu [12], aaxi ak xa bwaat pwanem [25], aaxi ak xa bwaat tujic xa bwaat pwanemgan [38].
  • One hundred is aanem ak (literally, five men).

Write a number in full in Nêlêmwa

Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Nêlêmwa. 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.


Le nêlêmwa (Nouvelle-Calédonie) : Analyse syntaxique et sémantique Le nêlêmwa (Nouvelle-Calédonie) : Analyse syntaxique et sémantique
by , editors Peeters Publishers (2002)

Dictionnaire nêlêmwa - nixumwak - français - anglais Dictionnaire nêlêmwa - nixumwak - français - anglais
by , editors Peeters Publishers (2000)


Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages

Araki, Cèmuhî, Māori, Marshallese, Mussau-Emira, Mwotlap, Nêlêmwa, Nengone, Paicî, Rapa Nui, Tahitian, Tongan (telephone-style), and Yuanga-zuanga.

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.