By Anand Jagatia September 3, 2021 Many people around the world learn to count on their fingers, but we don't all the same. Could there be a better method? H
How would you count to 10 on your fingers? Do you start with your thumb or forefinger? Left hand or right hand? Typing (relying on your hands) seems like such a simple and natural thing to do that you might assume it's almost the same everywhere.
After all, it's no accident so we have 10 digits on our hands and the most common numbering systems have 10 digits. This way of counting (called the base 10 system) probably arose because we have 10 fingers. If we had evolved with 8 or 12 fingers, our numbering system may be quite different . And the word "digit " in the sense of numbers comes from the Latin digitus, meaning finger or toe - because of the way we use them for counting.
But it turns out that people around the world have very different techniques for keeping track of the numbers on their hands.
For example, if you are from the UK or many parts of Europe, you probably start counting with your thumb and end with your pinky. In the United States, they start counting with the index finger and end with the thumb. In parts of the Middle East like Iran, they start with the pinky finger, while in Japan, they start with the fingers extended into an open palm, pulling them together to form a closed fist.
"In the past, researchers believed that finger counting, and in particular how we do it in the West, is essential for children when they startlearning to count and when they are trying to figure out what numbers really are. One of the reasons to question this is that there is great
In India, for example, they use the lines between the finger segments to count. This means that each digit can represent four numbers and the whole hand can represent 20. While in some parts of East Africa like Tanzania, among speakers of some Bantu languages, they use both hands as symmetrically as possible. The number six, for example, is displayed with the index, middle and ring fingers of both hands. there's also the indigenous Pame people of northern Mexico, who rely on their fingers, and the (now extinct) Yuki tongue in California, which used the spaces between the fingers.
You can see examples of vses ways to count fingers, and one way to count to 1000 on two hands in this Hfrance.fr Reel video below. How to count up to 1000 on your hands
However, some cultures do not Do not use amounts of fingers to represent numbers at all - they use symbols. In China, they count from one to five in the same way as in the United States, but six to 10 are symbolically represented. Six is indicated by extending the thumb and little finger, while 10 is either a closed fist or a cross between the index and middle fingers. And the the ancient Romans also used a clever (but difficult to master) symbolic system that allowed them to count by the thousands .
Bender says that finger count can be richly varied and researchers may have barely scratched the surface of the multitudes of ways different cultures do this. His group is about to begin a much larger investigation to try to document finger counting around the world in much more detail.
"We know a little how much
Cognitive scientists like Bender are starting to show that there is still a lot to be done. find out about the relationship between gesture and language learning. For example, gestures can change the way we hear words . But we don't know if the gesture informs the choice of word or vice versa.
"What I find extremely exciting is - what cognitive implications do these differences have? How do children grow up with different representations for numbers, learning to count? "
At some point, probably hundreds of thousands of years ago, our ancestors began to count and have developed different counting systems, Bender concludes.
Finger counting can not only reveal where in the world you are from, but it can also shed light on how we learned to understand the concept of number - as children and even as a species. Even though counting on your hands seems as easy as one-two-three, in reality it is not that easy .
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