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The concept of NUMBER supposes an abstraction, but its representation involves a double code; the mathematician who symbolizes the number, that is, the number, and the linguistic one, who evokes the number and represents its name.

The NUMERAL SYSTEM will therefore be a translation of non-linguistic concepts to the linguistic system that must be saved to the possibilities presented by each language, which produces numerous inconsistencies as well as large differences from one language to another.

The scope of the numerals does not constitute a unitary grammatical class in categorical terms, but is part of the transversal classes that give shelter to more than one grammatical category.

Previous considerations

A panoramic view of the whole reveals that it is a group of expressions whose signifiers can participate in several paradigms.

In this application, the general classification proposed by the NGLE will be followed, considering, under both morphosyntactic and semantic criteria, four subclasses of NUMERALES; CARDINAL, ORDINAL, MULTIPLICATIVE, and FRACTIONARIES (NGLE §21).

These areas present a double peculiarity that converts the semantic field of the numerals into gibberish; On the one hand, these classes are developed by different grammatical categories and, occasionally; by different forms; ordinality can be expressed with forms belonging to the ordinal paradigm; twenty-fifth plant, and with its own forms of the cardinal paradigm; twenty-five plant.

On the other hand, some of these classes will share their canonical forms; thus fourth may be according to its syntactic distribution, adjective or ordinal masculine noun, or fractional masculine noun;

  1. It is the fourth topic that they find most difficult to understand. ORDINAL ADJECTIVE.
  2. In Santander we lived in a room. ORDINAL MALE SUBSTANTIVE.
  3. A quarter of the world's population has vision problems. FRACTIONAL MALE SUBSTANTIVE.

Together with these difficulties, we can point out another of a theoretical nature; the lack of meticulous and rigorous analysis by the traditional grammars of our language. In general terms the treatment of the numerals is superficial and limited, it is exhausted in the presentation of lists of lexical units (in most cases without cataloging categorically) together with some indications of morphological character for the formation of the lexical units that give name the figures. These deficiencies may be justified by the lack -at the theoretical-descriptive level- of two of the requirements that impose and urge computational grammars; the precision and the explicitness.