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  1. #11
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    For the sake of learners who have no idea where that quote about blackbirds sprang from, there is an English nursery rhyme which begins:

    Sing a song of sixpence
    A pocket full of rye.
    Four and twenty blackbirds
    Baked in a pie.
    When the pie was opened,
    The birds began to sing.
    Wasn't that a dainty gift to set before the King!

    There are more verses!
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  2. #12
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    It's just like chicken pot pie, I imagine.
    Except that the chicken is dead in the pot pie.

    The blackbirds began to sing when their pie was opened.

    Rover

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    Of course, the Germans still use this form vier und zwanzig for twenty four, normally. I wonder if there's a link.
    But 'Sing a Song of Sixpence" is definitely English.

  4. #14
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    But 'Sing a Song of Sixpence" is definitely English.
    I doubt the Germans ever wrote a ditty as daft as that.

    Rover

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    I remember a very rude song from my youth, entitled "The Ball of Kirriemuir". One verse detailed the unfortunate fate which befell the "four-and-twenty maidens" who "came down from Inverness" to attend.....
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  6. #16
    coolfool is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Well, actually - more than (above) 25,000. But it's 25 thousand not 5 and 20 thousand (i.e., 20,005).
    Five and twenty can be interpreted as 25. Five and hundred can be considered to be either 150 or 105. I'm still out of my depth.

    Is it an old or weird usage? Can anyone prove it?

    Grateful for all your help.

  7. #17
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    Quote Originally Posted by coolfool View Post
    Five and twenty can be interpreted as 25. Five and hundred can be considered to be either 150 or 105. I'm still out of my depth.

    Is it an old or weird usage? Can anyone prove it?

    Grateful for all your help.
    "Five and hundred" is not something you will hear from a native speaker. However, if you did, it would be 105. What makes you think it could be 150?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    The 'five and twenty' type construction was only ever used of 'X and ....ty' numbers from 21 to 99, never of hundreds and thousands. Jane Austen, writing in the early nineteenth century, used it, but I don't think it was used in everyday language long after that. It survived into the present day only in traditional songs and poems, in the clock times already mentioned and, possibly in some rural dialects.

  9. #19
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five-and-twenty thousand = ?

    Quote Originally Posted by coolfool View Post
    Five and twenty can be interpreted as 25. Five and hundred can be considered to be either 150 or 105. I'm still out of my depth.

    Is it an old or weird usage? Can anyone prove it?

    Grateful for all your help.
    I don't know how you came to the conclusion that "five and hundred" could be 150 based on what you've read here.

    Basically, as far as I am aware, 25 is the only number that seems to take this rather old-fashioned construction and you won't hear it at all from the younger generations (sorry, 5jj!)

    Five and twenty = 25
    Five and twenty thousand = 25,000
    Five and twenty million = 25, 000

    I certainly don't recall my grandfather ever saying "three and twenty" for 23 or anything similar. When telling the time, he wouldn't have said "It's eight and twenty past two" but he would have said "It's five and twenty past two". That is no different in the up-to-date construction. We don't say "It's twenty-eight past two", but we do say "It's twenty-five past two".

    If I were you, I would stop worrying about it. Accept that perhaps a couple of times in your life, you might hear someone say "five and twenty" to mean 25. The nursery rhyme we quoted is a bit of an anomaly and I would say it was done to fit the rhythm of the line, because "Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" has the right number of syllables, whereas "Twenty four blackbirds baked in a pie" doesn't.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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