back.gif (1674 bytes)

Cardinal and Ordinal numbers


Numbers 1-10  /  11-20  /  21-30  /  31-40  /  100-900  / 1000 and up  /  Fractions 

Cardinal and Ordinal numbering:

Cardinal numbers are the numbers you use for counting:  one, two, three...and so on.
Ordinal Numbers are used to indicate position: first, second, third, fourth...and so on. 

In ASL, ordinal numbers 1 through 9 are done similar to cardinal numbers except they use a little twist of the wrist. 
Beyond "9th," ordinal  numbers start adding a "TH" after the number instead of doing the twist. 

An interesting difference between English and ASL is that for some spoken English numbers the way the cardinal version of  the number is pronounced leads to a natural impact on the way the number is pronounced in its ordinal form.

Specifically a number in English such as 22 takes the ordinal form of 22nd and pronounced as twenty-second.

However, ASL doesn't "pronounce" words. Rather, ASL signers sign signs. The way in which the number 22 is signed in ASL doesn't lead to a need to use the "nd" sound as it does in English.  Thus for ASL signers the use of "th" added to 22 actually "feels" better than adding "nd."
So, don't be surprised if you see someone sign "22th" in ASL.

"22nd" and/or "22th" is a fairly rare concept in either language though so expect there to be less standardization in ASL regarding how to create the ordinal form of 21, 22, and 23.

Claiming that 22th is "wrong" in ASL based on how English handles cardinal numbering possibly be considered a form of linguistic snobbery from bilingual English / ASL signers.  ASL is not English.

Let's go over that again: 
Cardinal numbers are 1, 2, 3...
Ordinal numbers, 1st, 2nd, 3rd...
In ASL we do cardinal numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
In ASL we do ordinal numbers:
1 + twist
2 + twist
3 + twist
4 + twist
5 + twist
6 + twist
7 + twist
8 + twist
9 + twist
10 + th (fingerspell "th")
11 + th
12 + th
13 + th
14 + th
15 + th
16 + th
17 + th
18 + th
19 + th
20 + th
21 + th
22 + th
...


In a message dated 2/22/2005 7:50:46 AM Pacific Daylight Time, akarajeurs@hotmail.com writes:
so, when using cardinal numbers,you add the "th"? OWuldn't u use it for the ordinal numbers?



>From: Dr. Bill Vicars
>To: akarajeurs@hotmail.com
>Subject: Re: numbers
>Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 18:35:28 EST
>
>
>
>Cardinal and Ordinal numbering:
>
>Cardinal numbers are the numbers you use for counting: one, two,
>three...and so on.
>Ordinal Numbers are used to indicate position: first, second, third,
>fourth...and so on. Cardinal nubmers 1 through 9 are done similar to ordinal
>numbers except they use a little twist of the wrist. Beyond "9th" cardinal numbers
>start adding a "TH" after the number. An interesting difference between
>English and ASL is that English uses the concept of "nd" for some numbers but
>ASL only uses "th." For example English uses 22nd but ASL uses 22th.
 


Numbers 1-10  /  11-20  /  21-30  /  31-40  /  100-900  / 1000 and up  /  Fractions 


American Sign Language University ASL resources by Lifeprint.com Dr. William Vicars
back.gif (1674 bytes)