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  1. goingtocalifornia's Avatar
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    #1

    4&20

    Was there a time in English history when one had to describe time the same way we do it in German language?

    Everybody knows the story of another experimental philosopher who had a great theory about a horse being able to live without eating, and who demonstrated it so well, that he had got his own horse down to a straw a day, and would unquestionably have rendered him a very spirited and rampacious animal on nothing at all, if he had not died, four-and-twenty hours before he was to have had his first comfortable bait of air.

    And..”rampacious” or rapacious?

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    #2

    Re: 4&20

    A couple of hundred years ago, four-and-twenty would have been very common in everyday English. I'm not sure that people had to use that construction, however.


    Rampacious

    Ram*pa"cious\, a. High-spirited; rampageous. [Slang] --Dickens.
    (Dictionary.com)

    Rover

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: 4&20

    Two of my grandparents used to say "It's five and twenty past..." when telling the time. No-one in my family of a younger generation uses the construction though.

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: 4&20

    Quote Originally Posted by goingtocalifornia View Post
    Was there a time in English history when one had to describe time the same way we do it in German language?

    ...
    Wrong question.
    • We don't have to do anything (except grow up using the language of our parents)
    • There wasn't any one time when this trait emerged
    • The tense is inappropriate - because the usage is still current
    • In any case it doesn't apply only to time.


    Modern English and Modern German have a common ancestor. Every English child either has relatives who still use this sort of number-system or remembers it from the nursery rhyme:
    Sing a song of sixpence
    A pocketful of rye
    Four and twenty blackbirds
    Baked in a pie
    [What it means is irrelevant; the number, at least, is clear.]

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 20-Jun-2011 at 11:11. Reason: Tweak format

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    #5

    Re: 4&20

    Not a teacherRather than just time you are talking about counting in general. Here's a nursery rhyme supposedly originated in the 18th century. The first line is also the tittle, should you want to look it up:

    Sing a song of sixpence
    A pocket full of rye.
    Four and twenty blackbirds,
    Baked in a pie.

    Also:

    Rapacious - greedy, gluttonous, piggish

    M.
    Last edited by Mannysteps; 20-Jun-2011 at 13:48.

  4. goingtocalifornia's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: 4&20

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Wrong question.
    Modern English and Modern German have a common ancestor.

    b
    Yes, Romans definitely should have stayed longer and defend Britain against the invaders who had coursed so much trouble for us learning English today.

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: 4&20

    Quote Originally Posted by goingtocalifornia View Post
    Yes, Romans definitely should have stayed longer and defended Britain against the invaders who had coursed caused [same vowel, different consonant: /kɔ:zd/] so much trouble for us learning English today.


    b

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    #8

    Re: 4&20

    Only that the Romans were the invaders.

    M.

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    #9

    Re: 4&20

    My father used to use four and twenty. I haven't heard it used much in recent years, and only by older people.

  6. BobK's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: 4&20

    Quote Originally Posted by Mannysteps View Post
    Only that the Romans were the invaders.

    M.
    But they weren't the first or the last invaders. Others spoke languages with Germanic traits.

    b

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