Talk:Ordinal numeral

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Requested moveEdit

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was no consensus on course of action. JPG-GR (talk) 20:01, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Ordinal number (linguistics)Ordinal number — By far the most common use of the term — (talk) 12:04, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Enabling move: Ordinal numberOrdinal number (set theory) (talk) 13:07, 16 June 2008 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's naming conventions.
  • Support as nominator - search results suggest the linguistic sense as the primary meaning. The first results page:
    • MathWorld, whose summary reads "In common usage, an ordinal number is an adjective which describes the numerical position of an object, e.g., first, second, third, etc.".
    • Definition of ordinal as opposed to cardinal
    • A children's game designed to teach the same.
    • wikt:ordinal number.
    • "An ORDINAL NUMBER is one that shows the ORDER of an item in a sequence."[1].
    • "When objects are placed in order, we use ordinal numbers to tell their position"[2].
    • Another children's game.
    • "Ordinal numbers tell the position or order of objects."[3].
    • The second page shows three references to mathematical usage, and the remainder to the former. So in the top 20 entries (which include the two Wikipedia entries), we have 5 references to set theory and 15 references to the commonly-understood meaning. Add the third page, and it is 23:7 in favour of this article. Four pages, 30:10. Five pages has the total at 39:11 - though that extra result refers to the set theory concept specifically as "transfinite ordinal numbers". The ratio therefore falls somewhere between 3:1 and 4:1 in favour of the sense described on this page. (talk) 12:26, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose, in favor of a disambiguation page, and subject to further question as to whether this page should be moved to Ordinal number (set theory) or Ordinal number (logic), or perhaps Ordinal number (mathematics). Neither usage is really common outside of the respective specialized fields, and both groups believe theirs to be the primary usage in their field, and they may be correct in that assertion. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 13:38, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
    I think the results above fairly conclusively demonstrate that the concept of "ordinal numbers" as "first, second, third" etc. is hardly restricted to a specialized field. (talk) 16:14, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
    Actually, they demonstrate that the concept is widespread, but that the use of the name is only in technical and pedagogical (sp?) usage. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:02, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose I use the term "ordinal" for the set theoretic concept very frequently and see this often. I almost never see the linguistic usage. Also I protest the bias implicit in conducting this argument here rather than at Talk:Ordinal number which is more likely to be frequented by people who use this terminology. JRSpriggs (talk) 15:27, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
    • I protest your accusation that there is any implicit bias whatsoever. The request is advertised at WP:RM as normal. (talk) 16:19, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
      • You sound like a troll. You cannot seriously expect people to put WP:RM on their watch list just in case someone proposes an idiotic move there! JRSpriggs (talk) 17:36, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
        • A little bit of WP:AGF goes a long way. "Nobody told me!" is not generally a valid objection, and you seem to be attacking me and my actions rather than the substantive argument. The move was proposed on the talk page of the main article that is to be moved, and advertised with a sizable banner on the top of the talk page of the article that needs to be moved out of the way to do it. This is the usual procedure for page moves which may require an administrator. (talk) 08:28, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
          • I agree about AGF. However, I believe it is also a common courtesy to leave a short note on every article affected by a proposed move. Your second and third sentence remind me of something I have heard before. ("All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department in Alpha Centauri […]") Can you please both stop fighting and remember the Wiki way, which is not the Vogon way? --Hans Adler (talk) 08:52, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
            • [4]. What more were you expecting? (talk) 13:42, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
            • Ah, that changes things; I wouldn't have mentioned intergalactic highways if I had seen that. (But yes, I think it's better to start a new section for this kind of thing, because it's easy not to notice a new template on a talk page.) So let me recapitulate that 217 didn't try to hide the proposed move, and JRSpriggs didn't canvas, as he could have easily done by posting a neutral message to the WP:WikiProject Mathematics. Is that a basis to move on now? --Hans Adler (talk) 14:02, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose and maintain the status quo: I can't imagine anyone actually looking up ordinal number in an encyclopedia (as opposed to a dictionary!) with the intent of finding out about the linguistic concept. In fact, although the latter is an important concept, I think giving it an article on its own is pretty absurd, it should be merged as a section of some larger article on various linguistic concepts of numbers (there are more than cardinals and ordinals, there are also distributives and things like that), with more background. Ordinals numbers in mathematics, on the other hand, are certainly a independent concept on their own. --Gro-Tsen (talk) 16:03, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Support move to Ordinal number (mathematics). As a mathematician who uses infinite ordinals daily, but who also has some interest in linguistics, I believe that "ordinal number" in the sense of first, second, third,… is the primary meaning, and the one that very likely most people searching for the term have in mind. We are probably confusing a lot of non-mathematicians with the current structure. I would be very surprised if the word had not been chosen for the mathematical notion because of this primary meaning, to which the mathematical meaning is clearly related. In my opinion neither ordinal number (set theory) nor ordinal number (logic) is appropriate, though. – To Gro-Tsen: I agree. The present article is probably not needed and should probably be merged elsewhere. But even then it would probably be preferable to have ordinal number redirect to the merged article rather than be the mathematical article. – As to procedure, I think it was inappropriate to start something that looks like a vote about this on the present talk page without posting anything at all on Talk:Ordinal number. Actual content contributors often don't know about strange places like WP:RM. (I have come around a lot in my 8 months here, and this is the first time I hear about that place.) But JRSpriggs has fixed this problem. --Hans Adler (talk) 22:44, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Make ordinal number a disambig page. This should be the default option when there are two or more meanings that have comparable probability of being used as links or search terms. In this case the linguistic meaning is probably the more likely search term, but the mathematical one is probably the more likely link target. --Trovatore (talk) 08:04, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Other than the sentence about sign language, I think there isn't anything in this article that isn't elsewhere. Just move that sentence. In french we have "In linguisitcs, the words first, second, third, fourth, etc. are called ordinal numerical adjectives. In mathematics, this notion is extended to ..." I'm sure any non-Wikipedian will consider this is as good a "disambiguation" as any. --Unzerlegbarkeit (talk) 18:34, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose as above (but there is no need for a dab page with two meanings, that's what dab headers are for.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:43, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
    • Comment I disagree strongly with the parenthetical. Dab headers should be used only when one of the meanings is clearly primary. If there are just two meanings, and they're of comparable "weight", then a dab page with two meanings is just fine. --Trovatore (talk) 22:40, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
      • Normally I would also prefer not to have a dab page for just two meanings. But it turns out that there is also a notable meaning of cardinal/ordinal in economics that doesn't have an article (yet). (See my talk page.) --Hans Adler (talk) 23:12, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
        • I really do not understand why anyone thinks there's anything wrong with a two-meaning dab page. It is precisely the correct thing to do when there are two meanings and neither is clearly primary. Any other choice violates the "principle of least surprise". --Trovatore (talk) 23:16, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Support with essentially Hans Adler's reasoning (my early CS work was in computational linguistics). The set-theoretic meaning is primary only within mathematics, which does not seem a strong argument for its primacy in the much larger nonmathematical world. --Vaughan Pratt (talk) 00:05, 22 June 2008 (UTC)


Any additional comments:
  • I'd be interested to hear the views of non-mathematicians on the subject - this being a voice strangely absent here. (talk) 14:10, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
    That seems to indicate that this article is not being watched by people, possibly because — wait for it — very few actually use the term.Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:14, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
    I half agree with that sentiment. I suspect that the linguistic sense is much better known to the general public than the mathematical sense, but much less important to those who know it. I wonder if the following would make sense as a compromise:
    This should be less confusing to non-mathematicians who land on the wrong page, while preserving the easy linking target for mathematicians.
    I also think that ordinal number (linguistics) should be merged into Names of numbers in English, and that cardinal number (linguistics) should be created as a new redirect to that article. Regardless of the outcome of this, it would be good to go through the vast number of links to ordinal number. I think more than half of them are correct; but the number of incorrect links is very significant, especially from articles discussing individual languages and many of those silly articles on individual numbers. Incidentally, these links seem to prove that people do use the word in its linguistic sense, and significantly. --Hans Adler (talk) 16:59, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Arthur Rubin that the linguistic usage is not used much (even though covered in elementary school). Although much of what Hans Adler says makes sense, I think his suggestion to move ordinal number and use a redirect to it gives us the costs without the benefits of 217's proposal. JRSpriggs (talk) 01:55, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Date pronunciationEdit

I'm not sure the common pronunciation of November 5 is "November fifth"; I think it needs a source, as it seems about 50-50 in my personal experience (which, of course, is not grounds for editing the article, only for removing disputed unsourced material.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:22, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

It's a (very) common mis-pronunciation. But, it may be one of those instances where because so many people say it that way, it has become the acceptable way. --Musdan77 (talk) 20:02, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
What do you think the 'correct' pronunciation should be? I say it as "November the fifth" but I've occasionally heard some say "November five" so presumably they consider that correct. Which is the 'common way' of which you speak? Savvo (talk) 03:25, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

Conventions of pronunciation tend not to be covered by writing style guides, but there are still a number of sources for dates being pronounced as ordinals and written as cardinals.

Use cardinal numbers (1,2,3) to express a full date, even though dates are normally pronounced as ordinal numbers.

— Jill Meryl Levy, Take Command of Your Writing 1998, p. 453[rlist 1]

These may not be as authoritative as (say) a dictionary, but do confirm the usage. -- Ham105 (talk) 07:18, 9 December 2014 (UTC).

  1. ^ Meryl Levy, Jill (1998). Take Command of Your Writing. Firebelle Productions. p. 453. ISBN 978-0-9651516-1-0.

2th, etc.Edit

I went on here to look up the validity of using ordinals with all "th" endings such as 1th, 2th, etc., and found no information. The wiktionary entry for "twoth" lists it as nonstandard, yet Google searches somehow have 1th and 2th giving suggestions. I was wondering if there was any consensus on this usage, and would like this to be noted here if anyone has the appropriate information. Seems like a good topic for this page to be added. (talk) 00:02, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

How odd. I couldn't wrap my head around this and indeed found no results in the OED for "twoth" or "2th" but when I visit wikt:twoth and read the quotations it does sound familiar (as far as having heard oneth and twoth being used in such ways). Curious. (talk) 05:33, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

No zeroth?Edit

What is the word "zeroth", linguistically? It is not a ordinal number?

For instance, the nut is sometimes called the "zeroth fret" on a guitar.

Some instruments actually have a fret there, see Zero_fret. (talk) 19:29, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Well. Apparently, not: the zero fret article uses "zero fret" throughout. The reason for this, I would guess, is that the linguistic need for ordinal zero is (in English, anyway), exceedingly rare, so there was never a convention put in place to accommodate the one or two exceptions. Another possible, somewhat related reason could also be that historically zero as a number did not exist in English. this is also reflected in that the zero-as-placeholder in Arabic representation of numbers is not represented in the spoken form of the number (nor in the Roman numeral; e.g. 405 is four hundred and five, CDV (or sometimes CCCCV)) Firejuggler86 (talk) 19:25, 17 October 2020 (UTC)

Greek formsEdit

Article currently shows the Greek series of ordinal prefixes:

proto-  deutero-  trito-  tetarto-  pempto-  ecto-  ebdomo-  ogdoo-  enato-  decato-  endecato-  dodecato-

Those these look like good Greek, I see no evidence that anything above "tetarto-" has any non-trivial existence in English. The prefix "ecto-" means "external", not eighth; there are a couple of obscure words based on ogdo- (but not ogdoo-), namely ogdoastich and ogdoad, etc. These are rare and not productive. --Macrakis (talk) 07:58, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Can we add more examples from other languages?Edit

I’d love to see the subject of ordinal numerals address languages other than English and Chinese. What interests me is how each language treats ordinals higher than ten. It is my hunch that it is actually globally relatively uncommon to have higher ordinals in everyday speech. Furthermore, while it is common to have a suppletive ordinal for one, and somewhat common to have a suppletive form for two, I believe it is uncommon to have the suppletion extend to combining forms such as twenty-first. In French, for instance, first is premier, but the regularly-formed unième is seen in combining forms: vingt-et-unième, etc. In Spanish, meanwhile, higher forms exist in the language, and each element in a combining form in fact inflects separately with suppletion extending to them: vigésimo primero. Such forms are rarely used in everyday speech. In Hebrew, ordinal forms above ten do not exist at all.

Simonsa (talk) 05:28, 13 September 2020 (UTC)

For 48, see FR.Edit

I can't see any reason for the this little header. Thmazing (talk) 00:01, 19 April 2021 (UTC)