High Valyrian Number

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This article is about the grammatical concept of "number." For the High Valyrian system of numerals, High Valyrian Number System

High Valyrian nouns have four grammatical numbers: singular, plural, collective, and paucal. Adjectives, verbs, and pronouns only recognize two numbers, with collectives being treated as singular, and paucals as plurals. "Singular" and "plural" are used in English, and most languages familiar to English-speakers, and so need very little elaboration. "Collective" and "paucal" will require some explanation.

Collective

Collectives end in r in the nominative. Despite this, they retain the same gender as their corresponding singular. In general they refer to a large group of something, or that thing as a whole. Words that refer to ordinary humans not associated with a profession usually mean "all" (e.g. valar "all men," ābrar "all women, all people");[1] those that do refer to a profession are more likely to refer to a group (e.g. azantyr "army.")

Collectives often acquire a special meaning (e.g. muña "mother" → muñar "parents.") Sometimes this results in them being reanalyzed into entirely new words, with their own plural (e.g. azantys pl. azantyssy "soldier" → azantyr pl. azantyri "army").

There seems to be a general tendency for the collective of a word referring to a female to refer to both genders, e.g. muña "mother" → muñar "parents;" ābra "woman" → ābrar "all people;" riña "girl," → riñar "children."

Note that while English does not have a collective number, it does have collective nouns (e.g. "humanity," "soldiery," and so on), and these can often, if not always, be used to get a better understanding of the corresponding HV word.

Paucal

Paucals end in n in the nominative. Despite this, they retain the same gender as their corresponding singular. In general they refer to a small group of something, and may be translated "a few ____," or "some ____."[2]

Paucals often acquire a special meaning (e.g. tīkos pl. tīkossa "feather" → tīkun pl. tīkuni "wing.") Sometimes this results in them being reanalyzed into entirely new words, with their own plural (e.g. tīkuni "wings").

Paucals seem to be much rarer than collectives, and as a result we know comparatively little about them.

Notes

  1. https://twitter.com/Dedalvs/status/336620103804276736
  2. Be careful though: in English "some" can sometimes be a way of saying "a certain subset of," e.g. "Some fish have scales (but others do not.)" The paucal should not be used this way.
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