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A question word not existing in English

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 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
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yong321
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 Message 1 of 25
28 March 2014 at 2:21am | IP Logged 
In English, there doesn't seem to be a proper question word that specifically asks for the ordinal number of an item in a series. For example,

Q: This is which time you come to New York?
A: The second time.

Here "which time" is awkward, or not proper English at all.

Q: The teacher wants us to read John XYZ's all three books in the ABC series. Which book are you on|reading now?
A1: I'm reading his "Book Title".
A2: I'm reading his second book.

Here the question is good, but both answers are valid; the question does not demand answer A2 and reject A1.

This is not the case with Chinese where there's the question word "第几", or German in which you can ask "wievielte" (see this discussion http://dict.leo.org/forum/viewUnsolvedquery.php?idThread=157 627 Note there's no space between 7 and 6; this forum web site added it).

What other languages can ask about the ordinal number?

Edited by yong321 on 28 March 2014 at 2:28am

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mrpootys
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 Message 2 of 25
28 March 2014 at 4:24am | IP Logged 
You can do anything in any language, you juat have to know how to express
it.


wieviele = how many

how many times have you been to New York?


The question is worded oddly, so I cant give you a definite answer to
your second one,

Edited by mrpootys on 28 March 2014 at 4:25am

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Josquin
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 Message 3 of 25
28 March 2014 at 12:53pm | IP Logged 
mrpootys wrote:
wieviele = how many

The question wasn't about "wie viele?", but "wievielte?":

"Das wievielte Mal bist du in New York?"

Literally, this means "The how many-th time are you in New York?". Obviously, this doesn't make much sense in English, because there is no question word for ordinal numbers, so you have to ask differently:

"How many times have you been to New York?"

This doesn't exactly reflect the question as it was posed in German, but there's no other way to express it in English.
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Henkkles
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 Message 4 of 25
28 March 2014 at 12:54pm | IP Logged 
In Finnish we have a word for this that is made of the word "moni" (many) and then made into an ordinal, so in English it would be something like 'many + th' > 'manieth', I guess this doesn't work because in English the word classes are not as fluid, heh.

"This is your how manieth visit to New York?"
"The second."

EDIT: heh, you (almost) beat me to it!

Edited by Henkkles on 28 March 2014 at 12:55pm

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Serpent
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 Message 5 of 25
28 March 2014 at 1:19pm | IP Logged 
Russian uses какой по счету? which can in some contexts be shortened to какой and still understood as requiring the number.
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horshod
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 Message 6 of 25
29 March 2014 at 1:12am | IP Logged 
In Marathi 'kiti' = how many and 'kitva' = how many'th.

This is your how many'th time in New York?
Hi tujhi New Yorklaa yenyaachi kitvi (inflected - fem. sing.) vel aahe? (ही तुझी न्यू यॉर्कला येण्याची कितवी वेळ आहे?)
OR
Tu New York la kitvyaandaa yet aahes? (तू न्यू यॉर्कला कितव्यांदा येत आहेस?)

I don't believe there is such a word in Hindi - or at least not one that is commonly used.


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DaisyMaisy
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 Message 7 of 25
29 March 2014 at 2:57am | IP Logged 
I think the question would be, "is this your first trip to New York", or "how many times have you been to New York". Or, "this is how many visits to NY for you?". You could still say "is this your second/third/fourth/etc" trip.


The second question sounds fine to me. "which book are you on?" 'the second'. It doesn't sound odd to me. But then again, it wouldn't so I may be missing the point!
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yong321
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 Message 8 of 25
29 March 2014 at 3:29am | IP Logged 
To DaisyMaisy,

I'm afraid you didn't understand my question. "Is this...?" is not an equivalent to the awkward (but theoretically accurate) "Which time is it ...?" "How many times...?" will get you an answer from which you can deduce the answer I expected, but is still not the same question.

My second question is in perfect English, but it allows at least two ways to answer. English has no way to construct a question that you can answer only one way, i.e. using the ordinal number.

To others,

Thank you all very much. Now I know Finnish, Russian, Marathi, as well as German and Chinese, have this question word. How about Spanish, French and Italian?



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