UNIT FIFTEEN

Numerals Cardinal, ordinal, distributive, collective, fractional.

Numerals, being a subclass of nominals, are exactly like nouns in most of their functions, and may occur in the various cases and possessive forms, as well as in juxtaposition with another noun to denote the quantity of objects involved. Unlike those of some other languages, however, Chuvash nouns do not employ the plural form after numbers, the presence of a quantity word being sufficient indication of the plurality, thus

ikĕ lasha two horses
pilĕk kĕneke five books

The cardinal numbers in Chuvash have two forms, the short and the long, of which the first is used attributively, that is, when same noun or object comes immediately after that numeral, and the second, the long, used when the numeral stands alone. Thus, “three houses“ would require the short form, but “the houses are three (in number)“ or “there are three‘ requires the long. The short forms also have forms without the final -ă/ĕ in free variation with short forms with these vowels. The long forms differ only in having a geminated consonant in place of a single consonant.

The numbers 11-19 are formed by compounding two stems. Numbers 101 through 119 employ the word te ‘and,‘ as do numbers over 1,000.

A table of cardinal numbers follows herewith,

1. pĕr pĕrre
2. ikĕ, ik ikkĕ
3. vişĕ, viş vişşĕ
4. tăvată, tăvat tăvattă
5. pilĕk pillĕk
6. ultă, ult ulttă
7. şichĕ şichchĕ
8. sakăr sakkăr
9. tăhăr tăhhăr
10. vună, vun vunnă

The numbers 10-19 are compounded as: vunpĕr, vunikĕ, and so on. Units with higher tens are formed as in English: şirĕm pĕr ‘21,‘ şyrĕm ikĕ ‘22,‘ etc.

20, şirĕm
30. vătăr
40. hĕrĕx
50. allă, ală, al
60. utmăl
70. şitmĕl
80. sakărvunnă
90. tăhărvună
100. şĕr

The other hundreds are compounded with stem forms plus şĕr, namely, ikşĕr, vişşĕr, tăvtşĕr, pilĕkşĕr. Smaller units with hundreds add te ‘and,‘

văl şĕr te ikke şitnĕ he reached 102.

The same for numbers over 1,000:

pin te tăhărşĕr şirĕm şichĕ 1927
pin te tăhărşĕr utmăl pĕr 1961

The long forms express the concept of the number as an abstract entity, and may be subject, object or predicate.

tăhhărtan pillĕk five from nine is four (from nine,
kălarsan, tăvattă julat when five is taken away, four remains‘)
vişĕ hut vişşĕ – tăhhăr three times three - (is) nine

The short forms are qualitative attributes of nominals, and like adjectives, come directly before the noun to form a nominal group. Requirements of juncture and speech rhythm allow final ă/ĕ to be dropped in some cases.

hirte vişĕ brigade ĕşlet three teams are working in the field
şich hut viş te pĕr hut kas measure seven times, cut once ( Look before you leap!)
viş-tăvat three or four, some three or four
iksĕmĕr (we) two together (lit. ‘our two‘)

Ordinal numerals denote the order or sequence in which one object follows another, and are formed from the long form of cardinal numbers by the morpheme -mĕsh (invariable). Syntactically, they are attributes, as ikkĕmĕsh brigada ‘the second team.‘ If the possessive -ĕ is used, then the ordinals may occur in all cases, and be used as subject, object or predicate.

kolhozra ikĕ brigada: pĕrremĕsh ută şulat, ikkĕmĕshne yrash vyrma jană
There are two teams in the kolkhoz:
the first mows hay, and the second was sent out to reap rye.

The forms for the ordinals are the following.

pĕrremĕsh first
ikkĕmĕsh second
vişşĕmĕsh third
tăvattămĕsh fourth
pillĕkmĕsh fifth
ulttămĕsh sixth
şichchĕmĕsh seventh
sakkărmĕsh eighth
tăhhărmĕsh ninth
vunnămĕsh tenth

Distributive numerals are formed with the suffix -shar/-sher added to the short form of the cardinals, and denote the distribution of a certain number of objects, usually best rendered by “each“ in English.

pilĕksher tetrad" five notebooks each
pinsher every thousand
pĕrer one each (the only irregular form)

Collective numerals denoted an accumulation of uniform objects, and are formed from the cardinal numbers plus the special possessive morpheme ĕshĕ used with some terms of relationship.

pĕri one of them (‘its one‘)
ikkĕshĕ two of them, a pair, twosome
vişşĕshĕ a three of them, a group of three
tăvattăshĕ a foursome, four of them
pillĕkĕshĕ five of them
ulttăshĕ six of them
şichchĕshĕ seven of them
sakkărăshĕ eight of them
tăhhărăshĕ nine of them
vunnăshĕ ten of them (and so on)

Collective numerals being nouns may be declined, and the ones up to seven may occur with the 1st and 2nd p. pl. possessive suffixes.

iksĕmĕr both of us, the two of us
iksĕr you two, the two of you
viş-sĕmĕr we three
viş-sĕr you three
pajan huralta. ikkĕshĕ tăraşşĕ Today two of them are keeping watch
viş-sĕmĕre haşat kălarma tivet The three of us must make up an issue of the paper

Fractional numbers combine cardinal numerals in the full form as the numerator, together with an ordinal denoting the denominator. This combination may be then declined by adding case morphemes to the second number.

ikkĕ vişşĕmĕshĕnchen pĕrre tăvattămĕshĕ kalărsan, pillĕk vunikkămĕshĕ julat
If one-fourth is taken away from two thirds, the remainder is five-twelfths.