Classical Gluonic Topic

Classifiers, Quantifier Phrases and Numbers

Keywords: numbers, counting, classifiers, quantifiers

Noun phrases in Classical Gluonic require a classifier in order to be quantified and in particular to be exactly counted, a characteristic that is similar to Chinese. These classifiers are nominals and can function as noun phrase heads, having a key role in CG pragmatics, as they are used as dummy arguments to verbs where syntactically required, and often serve a pronoun-like role is a topic is introduced without being completely specified - pronouns can't take colour clitics required to introduce a referent, but classifiers can.

Numbers and Counting

The Gluonics natively count in base 6, or "seximal," rather than the base ten of all modern, advanced societies on Earth-0001. Modern Gluonic, of course, has to contend with base 10 due to the surrounding society, but Classical Gluonic only deals with numbers in seximal.

People will often challenge the Gluonics on base 6 counting, saying that it's not nearly enough numbers, and doesn't make sense because people have ten fingers. The simple argument Gluonics will tend to make back is that base 6 is actually superior because it allows one to count to 35 on just two hands - one hand to count up to five, and one hand to keep track of sixes.

A more sophisticated defender will talk about the number of useful fractions base 6 has, and the number of fractions that have a convenient representation in seximal notation (in this sense, think about what "decimal" mean - a number expressed with a fractional component as a fraction of the base after a separator, like 2.5 means "two and a half" in decimal - the equivalent to "two and a half" in seximal would be 2.3).

The real reason for seximal counting may be that six is the smallerst number that as both 2 and 3 as factors, the two principal symmetries of Gluonic mysticism.

CG has logographic glyphs for all numbers that also serve as numerals for the numbers from zero to five, and we are reliant on the reports of modern speakers, surviving recordings and circumstantial evidence to infer the classical pronunciations. The Bourque symbols for number glyphs are numbers representing their value in a concise way that is understandable to a person used to base 10 counting.

Much as in our counting system, CG has separate counting words for powers of 6 up to 6^3 (216 in decimal, equivalent to a thousand in ou system), the counts units of 6^3 up to 6^6 (46656 in decimal, equivalent to a million in our system). It then introduces a new counting word every 6^3 up to 6^18 - beyond this level, something like our scientific notation would be used.

This is like our "short scale" for large numbers. Unlike in English and most languages influenced by European practices where you have words like "trillion" which contain a root that comes from a lower counting word, Classical Gluonic has a completely unique root word for each counter. In that it resembles the SI prefixes more.

This article will explain how to count, but leave math and fractions for another time. Aside from the base 6 aspect, the way numbers are constructed in Classical Gluonic is very intuitive to many people form Earth-0001 and in particular bears a resemblance to the regular structure of Chinese or Japanese numbers.

The numbers below are represented in Sanderson as black roots. They are actually fully transparent and inflectable nominals. 

Counting Numbers
Sanderson Seximal Decimal Bourque
pheq 0 0 0
am 1 1 1
rruu 2 2 2
leli 3 3 3
twaj 4 4 4
swaa 5 5 5
prra 10 6 6
prra am 11 7 6-1
prra rruu 12 8 6-2
prra leli 13 9 6-3
prra twaj 14 10 6-4
prra swaa 15 11 6-5
rruu prra 20 12 2-6
rruu prra am 21 13 2-6-1
qoku 100 36 6e2
am qoku am 101 37 6e2-1
rruu qoku rruu prra am 221 85 2-6e2-2-6-1
fjene 1,000 216 6e3
venno 1,000,000 46,656 6e6
xuure 10^13 6^9 6e9
cwatto 10^20 6^12 6e12
klyyna 10^23 6^15 6e15
hawci 10^30 6^18 6e18

In Classical Gluonic, the groupings into powers of three may be rooted in the symmetries based on threes found in other areas of the language inspired by Gluonic mysticism. As you can see, the way elements are ordered to make a complete number is very systematic and regular and in an order that is fairly familiar to us.

Inflection and Use with Noun Phrases

Numbers are fully inflectable nominals, functioning like compounds. They take the standard noun and adjective inflections. The largest grouping number (6, 6e2, 6e3, etc in Bourque) gets the shine for compounds, and is the only component with shine. The inflectional ending goes on the last element. The shine goes to the right word without regard to whether its first, heaviest syllable is the first syllable of similar or greater heaviness in the word, but it will add morae to be at least as heavy as whatever syllable is competing with it for shine.

When used with a classifier, numbers govern and restrict the grammatical number of the overall phrase. All natural numbers except 1 require the partitive or plural. The number 1 requires the partitive or singular. Zero requires the plural. Fractions require the partitive.

When used without a classifier, they are interpreted as ordinal numbers and place no restriction on the grammatical number of the noun phrase.


"Eighty-five children"

Geeranii sajmii rruu qeeku rruu prra amii.

In this example, the referent is first mentioned and a weak collour clitic has been applied. The Person classifier (below) is used. Shine is applied to "qoku" and the inflectional ending to "am."


Every noun in Classical Gluonic has an appropriate classifier that is used in order to count it and which can serve as a dummy stand in for it in places where something vaguely specified needs to be introduced as a referent, which cannot be done with pronouns. When referred to using a pronoun, each in turn will require specifically either an animate or inanimate pronoun. In the classical script, these are written with syllabic glyphs, which is represented in Bourque in this form.

There are only 18 of these, which is not a lot compared to, say, Mandarin. Although the system has idiosyncrasies, generally a given noun will have one appropriate classifier, and that classifier will be fairly predictable.

List of Classifiers
Sanderson Bourque Theme Gloss Animacy
bee General Thing THING INAN
sawm SAwM People PERSON ANIM
liio LÍQ Animals ANIMAL AMB
flaa FLÁ Tiny Animals/Vermin VERMIN INAM
atla A-TLA Plants PLANT INAM
ween WÉN Distinctive Parts PART INAM
vuq VÚQ Identical Parts GRAIN INAM
yrri Y-RI Arbitrary Pieces SHARD INAM
cjaka CJA-KA Masses MASS INAM
genn GEN* Portions of a Liquid GLOB INAM
qqa Q*A Gust or Puff of a Gas PUFF INAM
dexi DE-XI Times and Events EVENT INAM
ple PLE Information INFO INAM
tloo TLÓ Useful Objects USEFUL INAM
xin XIM Structures STRUCT INAM
ven VEN Abstractions and Entities ABSTRACT ANIM
feese FÉ-SE High Tech Devices TECH AMB
vajn VAjN Very Large Masses GRAND INAM

For Animacy, ANIM means that it requires animate pronouns to refer to it, INAM calls for inanimate pronoun, and AMB means it is ambiguous and the speaker might use either.

This is a semi-open class - scientific units of measure can also be used as classifiers, and any word that can potentially be pressed into service as a unit of measure can be used syntactically like a classifier, especially in more casual speech. However, for general use, these 18 are the whole set.

Alternative Quantifiers ("Few," "All," Etc.)

In addition to numbers, more general quantifiers can be used with classifiers to express something about the quantify being discussed. These can be used in place of a number.

Additional Quantifiers
Sanderson Bourque English Notes
mut MUT few Requires partitive or plural but often partitive.
jotta JO-T*A many Requires partitive or plural.
khii K*Í all/any Singular agreement for "any." Requires singular or plural.
pheq 0 no/none This is just the number zero. Requires plural.

In this example, all of the noun phrases have been introduced.

Rralosu kwajle gorano sawmo khuuho veppehe.

"Any child can throw the ball."

The singular number on the agent noun phrase gives "khii" the sense of "any" rather than "all."

Classifiers as "Dummy Nouns"

Unlike pronouns, classifiers don't grammatically require an already-mentioned antecedent, and can take normal noun phrase morphology such as colour clitics. As such, they are used on their own to introduce a topic the speaker doesn't want to explicitly define, or else as syntactically-required dummy arguments for verbs.

An example is the weather, where a weather expression uses an agentive intransitive verb and grammatically requires a subject even thought there isn't truly an agent. The classifier "dexi" for events would normally serve as that dummy subject to introduce the topic of the weather, and the topic, the weather, could then be subsequently referred to with an inanimate third person pronoun.


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