Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Magic Number

Three, I think is the magic number.

How do you count from 1 to 5 on your fingers?

Where do you start?

Is number 1 your thumb or your forefinger?

If you're British as opposed to continental (I had thought this anomaly was just a German thing but having spoken to a French friend I've discovered that they (the French) count the way the Germans do, so until I've had the chance to do a full survey of all Europeans I'm assuming it's a continental thing and only the channel prevented the spread to the UK of incorrect counting...

So on the left we have the way the British do counting on their fingers and on the right the way the continentals do it - which one are you?

One (clearly)





Mad eh?

We first became aware of this difference when children show 3 fingers, those who've been here from too early an age use 2 fingers and a thumb, those who know better use 3 proper digits. But why is there this difference in counting? A theory was suggested to me by an ex maths teacher at the weekend but I have to admit to some scepticism...he says that the British way is the right way (well he would, being the holder of a British passport) because when you finally show 5 your hand forms a V between the thumb and the rest of the hand, which as everyone knows is the Roman numeral for 5...sound reasoning I think but then he let himself down when he tried to explain that 10 would be the 2 hands held up edge to edge forming an X shape...if he'd left it at the 5 I'd have been convinced...

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