Hello everyone,

Mr.Joseph is the third son of his parents.
How we can ask to Mr.Joseph so that he can answer that : " I am the third son of my parents. "

For example, What is your position in the ordinal number of ........ Is there a better way to ask this question?

-dileep.k
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There is no single normal question which will guarantee that response. The best you can do is: How many sons do your parents have? Which one are you? And even then, the response may be I'm the handsome one. Sometimes, there is no substitute for negotiated dialogue.
Thanks Mister Micawber,

So that is it.
In my mother tongue (it's name is Malayalam - spoken in southern part of India) there is a verb to ask that question precisely.
('ythra ' - means what is the position in ordinal number? )

It is natural that there are instances where we do not have straight equivalent between languages.

-dileep.k
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It always sounded strange to me that there was no English words for asking that question! Because it is very natural to ask how many presidents, for example, have served before Clinton! As far as I remember, umpteen used to cover that meaning in English, but not any longer. You can ask how many children your parents had before you were born, or something like that. Emotion: smile
It is perhaps because primogeniture, or at least sibling seniority, is not so important in our culture. Language differences often (of course) reflect cultural differences.

(I am not sure in what context you want to use umpteen, LL, but it means a large, indefinite number.)
Thanks MrM. I know its present meaning (umpteen). But I think that I have read or heard somewhere that once it also referred to the order of things. Because it is no longer used, that sense is out of language and dictionaries. I just wanted to say that it could have been existed in English, once upon a time! I didn't mean to confuse the readers.

However, it seems that I was wrong. Etymoline dates the use of "umpty" back to 1905, and "umpteen" to 1917. Then I keep my mouth shut! Emotion: zip it Emotion: smile
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Dear Mister Macaber,

My question was not on the context of primogeniture or about any legal vocabulary. That was only an example.

Look at this one.
Anaswer : " Abraham Lincon was the 16th President of United States".
What exactly we have to ask to get this answer ? The purpose is to know whether 15th, 16th or 17th . That is the issue.

-dileep.k
My question was not on the context of primogeniture or about any legal vocabulary.
And my comment on primogeniture was not directed to you, Dileep. Unfortunately, threads do not always obey the injunctions of their progenitors, but can wander off in umpteen directions with the vagaries of the discussion.

However, to return to your point, there is no single, standard question that will assure that answer, 'the 16th'. We do not have a ythra. If you want to play with the language, you could ask, Lincoln was the which-teenth president of the US of A?-- but that is hardly standard English.

(And I think I may have found the source for your previous conception of umpteen, LL-- it seems to be a tongue-in-cheek research paper: see [url="http://specgram.com/CXLVIII.2/04.hogg.umpteen.html "]HERE[/url].)
That was an interesting theory, MrM. If true, umpteen had to exist much longer than the etymonline provides. However, it's no one records why they choose a word to refer to a particular meaning! But I prefer to stick to etymonline's explenation that ump(ty) referred to a dash in Morse code! Anyway, thanks again, it's always good to know what the others think of something you have doubt about.
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