Eleven and twelve

Eleven and twelve

Two eggheady facts about the numbers eleven and twelve:

The first is that eleven and twelve are the only numbers in English from one to ninety-nine that contain the letter l. The same can be said of German, with elf and zwölf; and for that matter of Dutch, with elf and twaalf.

The second is that one plus twelve is not only equal to but also an anagram of two plus eleven.


As an addendum, if we take the cardinal form twelve, turn it into the ordinal form twelfth and then pluralise it we get the word twelfths, which is an English word ending in a consonant cluster containing no fewer than four consonants: /twɛlfθs/.

And four is the most number of consonants you can ever have in a consonant cluster at the end of an English word.

Or is it?

No, it’s actually five, as in angsts – /æŋksts/ –, a word I use in just about every other utterance, as in ‘one of my many twentieth-first-century angsts’.


(Photo taken in Mayfair in October 2014)