Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven, eleven, eleven

Wikipedia explains it:

Eleven is the first number which cannot be counted with a human’s eight fingers and two thumbs additively. In English, it is the smallest positive integer requiring three syllables and the largest prime number with a single-morpheme name. Its etymology originates from a Germanic compound ainlif meaning “one left.” It is also the second number in the “teens.”
I like the quotation marks around “teens.” But is eleven a teen? The American Heritage Dictionary defines teens as “The numbers 10 through 19 or 13 through 19.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate says “the numbers 13 to 19 inclusive; specifically : the years 13 to 19 in a lifetime or century.” And the Oxford English Dictionary agrees: “The numbers of which the names end in -teen. Also, years, temperatures, pay, etc., measured in quantities which end in -teen.” I’m pointing out these complications here, not on the Wikipedia article’s Talk page. (Eschew disputation!)

comments: 4

Elaine Fine said...

Perhaps eleven is a "tween."

Michael Leddy said...

One of my students suggested that too. I wish I’d thought of it.

Elaine said...

Based on a lot of years teaching junior high kids, 8th grade (usually age 13) was definitely a watershed between 'kids' and 'adolescents.' The 7th graders were a joy--full of enthusiasm and questions; the 8th graders were trying so hard to be cool that they were nearly catatonic. LOL

Michael Leddy said...

I’ve noticed a similar difference between third and fourth grades when doing poetry in a local school — third-graders full of questions and observations, fourth-graders much warier.