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Examples: one, two, three, etc. and first, third, fourth, etc. are all germanic and old english based, but "second" is Latin based. This also applies to "quarter" and I'm sure some others.

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    Borrowings, unlike sound changes, are intrinsically irregular. Which words get borrowed is not random, but it appears to be random to us, because we don't know the circumstances that produced the borrowing and kept it in the vocabulary. – John Lawler Nov 7 '16 at 22:41
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    I've always wondered why it isn't the "twoth". – Hot Licks Nov 7 '16 at 23:20
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    Excellent question! Someone may or may not have an explanation, but it is a valid and interesting question at any rate. (As to quarter, I think that is somewhat less remarkable, because a fourth is also in use. Unless you meant the Mediaeval procedure.) – Cerberus Nov 7 '16 at 23:45
  • @Cerberus I'd have backed Tolkien against John Lawler on this one. If he'd given a different answer. Which I suspect he wuddna. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 8 '16 at 0:02
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    @jamesqf: no; the Latin words for "six(th)," "nine(th)" and "third" resemble the English ones because the languages are related. Neither language borrowed these words from the other. – sumelic Nov 8 '16 at 15:07
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EtymOnline explains what happened in their entry for "second":

Replaced native other in this sense because of the ambiguousness of the earlier word.

Of course, we still have "other" (but it is no longer synonymous with "second").

Similarly, another, less ambiguous word (quarter) was introduced, as opposed to the original "a fourth" (which is easily confused with 4th).

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    Ah, I suppose that makes sense. Something similar probably happened in Latin, where alter "other" is normally used to mean "second", but the word secundus "second" is also used; secundus means something like "following" (cf. English consecutive, persecute). – Cerberus Nov 8 '16 at 1:17

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