18.8. Indefinite numbers

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

ro

PA

all

so'a

PA

almost all

so'e

PA

most

so'i

PA

many

so'o

PA

several

so'u

PA

a few

no'o

PA

the typical number of

da'a

PA

all but (one) of

piro

PA+PA

the whole of/all of

piso'a

PA+PA

almost the whole of

piso'e

PA+PA

most of

piso'i

PA+PA

much of

piso'o

PA+PA

a small part of

piso'u

PA+PA

a tiny part of

pino'o

PA+PA

the typical portion of

rau

PA

enough

du'e

PA

too many

mo'a

PA

too few

pirau

PA+PA

enough of

pidu'e

PA+PA

too much of

pimo'a

PA+PA

too little of

Not all the cmavo of PA represent numbers in the usual mathematical sense. For example, the cmavo ro means all or each. This number does not have a definite value in the abstract: li ro is undefined. But when used to count or quantify something, the parallel between ro and pa is clearer:

Example 18.41. 

micatlupaprenu
Ilook-atoneperson

Example 18.42. 

micatluroprenu
Ilook-atallpersons

Example 18.41 might be true, whereas Example 18.42 is almost certainly false.

The cmavo so'a, so'e, so'i, so'o, and so'u represent a set of indefinite numbers less than ro. As you go down an alphabetical list, the magnitude decreases:

Example 18.43. 

micatluso'aprenu
Ilook-atalmost-allpersons

Example 18.44. 

micatluso'eprenu
Ilook-atmostpersons

Example 18.45. 

micatluso'iprenu
Ilook-atmanypersons

Example 18.46. 

micatluso'oprenu
Ilook-atseveralpersons

Example 18.47. 

micatluso'uprenu
Ilook-ata-fewpersons

The English equivalents are only rough: the cmavo provide space for up to five indefinite numbers between ro and no, with a built-in ordering. In particular, so'e does not mean most in the sense of a majority or more than half.

Each of these numbers, plus ro, may be prefixed with pi (the decimal point) in order to make a fractional form which represents part of a whole rather than some elements of a totality. piro therefore means the whole of:

Example 18.48. 

micitkapiroleinanba
Ieatthe-whole-ofthe-mass-ofbread

Similarly, piso'a means almost the whole of; and so on down to piso'u, a tiny part of. These numbers are particularly appropriate with masses, which are usually measured rather than counted, as Example 18.48 shows.

In addition to these cmavo, there is no'o, meaning the typical value, and pino'o, meaning the typical portion: Sometimes no'o can be translated the average value, but the average in question is not, in general, a mathematical mean, median, or mode; these would be more appropriately represented by operators.

Example 18.49. 

micatluno'oprenu
Ilook-ata-typical-number-ofpersons

Example 18.50. 

micitkapino'oleinanba
Ieata-typical-amount-ofthe-mass-ofbread.

da'a is a related cmavo meaning all but:

Example 18.51. 

micatluda'areprenu
Ilook-atall-buttwopersons

Example 18.52. 

micatluda'aso'uprenu
Ilook-atall-buta-fewpersons

Example 18.52 is similar in meaning to Example 18.43.

If no number follows da'a, then pa is assumed; da'a by itself means all but one, or in ordinal contexts all but the last:

Example 18.53. 

roratcuka'ecitkada'aratcu
Allratscaneatall-but-onerats.

All rats can eat all other rats.


(The use of da'a means that Example 18.53 does not require that all rats can eat themselves, but does allow it. Each rat has one rat it cannot eat, but that one might be some rat other than itself. Context often dictates that itself is, indeed, the other rat.)

As mentioned in Section 18.1, ma'u and ni'u are also legal numbers, and they mean some positive number and some negative number respectively.

Example 18.54. 

licivu'uredulima'u
the-number32=some-positive-number

Example 18.55. 

licivu'uvodulini'u
the-number34=some-negative-number

Example 18.56. 

miponsema'urupnu
Ipossessa-positive-number-ofcurrency-units.

All of the numbers discussed so far are objective, even if indefinite. If there are exactly six superpowers (rairgugde, superlative-states) in the world, then ro rairgugde means the same as xa rairgugde. It is often useful, however, to express subjective indefinite values. The cmavo rau (enough), du'e (too many), and mo'a (too few) are then appropriate:

Example 18.57. 

miponseraurupnu
Ipossessenoughcurrency-units.

Like the so'a-series, rau, du'e, and mo'a can be preceded by pi; for example, pirau means a sufficient part of.

Another possibility is that of combining definite and indefinite numbers into a single number. This usage implies that the two kinds of numbers have the same value in the given context:

Example 18.58. 

miviskaleroregerku
Isawtheall-of/twodogs.

I saw both dogs.


Example 18.59. 

mispeniso'iciprenu
Iam-married-tomany/threepersons.

I am married to three persons (which is many in the circumstances).


Example 18.59 assumes a mostly monogamous culture by stating that three is many.