Reading "Great Expectations", I noticed that numbers (I don't remember if this refers to all numbers, but I'm sure it was used when age was concerned) were given in the German way, namely, for instance:

one-and-twenty for twentyone

I'm asking why and when did the two languages split in this sense, that is, when did English start to tell numbers in the reversed order with respect to German.

Google N-grams does not shed any light on the topic.

  • "Four and twenty blackbirds" ... somehow I never thought of this as numbers in the manner of Dickens. – GEdgar Nov 10 '13 at 22:02

Pictures do not show incomments ... For what it's worth, HERE is an ngram...

enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Right, so apart from the (pretty recent) intersection of the curves, no interesting information seem to emerge. I'd love to know the reason of the switch. – martina Nov 10 '13 at 22:13
  • 1
    As the O.P. said, though, that doesn't really answer the core question. Looking through some of the one and twenty hits: in measures twenty-one and twenty-two…; seventy-one and twenty-two is ninety-three; treatises six, eight, twelve, twenty-one and twenty-three; scores of between twenty-one and twenty-six baskets were often used; the cubit usually becomes twenty-four inches in width, although twenty-one and twenty-seven inch sizes do appear – and those are just on the first two pages. They are especially misleading hits, because those numbers are actually in the other format. – J.R. Nov 10 '13 at 22:15
  • Presumably to find one and twenty dominating things, you would have to go back further than 1800. – GEdgar Nov 11 '13 at 1:29

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.