Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Counting in German

One of the strangest parts about German is counting. Things start out simple enough: Eins, zwei, drei…

Like most other languages, German has a system for the two digit numbers above twenty (zwanzig), only the Germans decided to mix things up a bit. Instead of saying twenty-one, you flip it around, and say one-and-twenty (einundzwanzig), like some ancient founding father whose car got 40 rods to the hogshead.

Things get worse when you start using larger numbers. German’s notoriously long words are usually compound words on steroids, since German encourages you to pair up any remotely related words, like some kind of redneck singles club. If you ask a English salesman about the price of a new car, he might tell you that it costs twenty-four thousand three hundred ninety-five Euros. A German would say this:

“Das Auto kostet vierundzwanzigtausenddreihundertf├â┬╝nfundneunzig Euro.”

word by word, that’s four-and-twenty-thousand-three-hundred-five-and-ninety. Simple, no?

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. kats March 15th, 2009 7:57 am

    Two great similes in a three-paragraph post. That’s awesome, like a chainsaw rocket launcher with a cookie dough/beer dispenser. ­čÖé

    (Simile yoinked from Google search results, because it’s 2am here and I can’t think of a good one myself..)

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