Article published in:Time and Again: Theoretical perspectives on formal linguistics. In honor of D. Terence Langendoen
Edited by William D. Lewis, Simin Karimi, Heidi Harley and Scott O. Farrar
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 135] 2009
► pp. 37–53
2. On the nature of the approximative expression NUM-odd
In this paper, the morphology, syntax, semantics, and diachrony of expressions liketwenty-odd are described, based on the results of a corpus study which considers data from the British National Corpus, the Oxford English Dictionary, and Google. The -odd suffix appears most frequently with twenty, and in collocations with temporal nominals such as years, days, etc. Distributionally it appears to be a derivational suffix on numerals, occurring inside additional suffixation such as ordinal -th. It originated from the use of odd to denote a surplus or remainder, which usage has existed for several hundred years. It is distinct from other English approximatives, and approximatives in other languages, in that -odd expresses an indeterminate range above the cardinality of the modified numeral, but not below it, while other approximative expressions (like about) include the possibility that the actual number might be either above or below the reference number.
Published online: 08 January 2009