How finger counting gives away your nationality

DM

Many people around the world learn to count on their fingers, but we don’t all do it in the same way. Could there be a better method? How would you count to 10 on your fingers? Do you start with the thumb or the index finger? Left hand or right? Dactylonomy (counting on your hands) seems like such a simple and natural thing to do that you might assume it’s nearly the same everywhere. After all, it’s no coincidence that we have 10 digits on our hands and the most common number systems have 10 digits. This way of counting (called a base 10 system) probably arose because we have 10 fingers. If we had evolved with 8 or 12 fingers, our number system might be quite different. And the word “digit” in the sense of numerals comes from the Latin digitus, meaning finger or toe — because of the way we use them to count. But it turns out that people around the world have vastly different techniques for keeping track of numbers on their hands

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