Finger systems --- Signing --- Days in a month --- Chisenbop --- Multiplication --- Up to 100,000
We naturally count every finger in turn, and so can count up to ten. This is not the only way to count. You can count up to five on one hand, and then continue up the arm, pointing to wrist, mid-arm, inside of elbow, mid-upper-arm, and shoulder, to get to ten. This has the advantage that it gives an unambiguous number for both left- and right-handed people, since you only use one arm. When we wish to signal without words a number under ten, we don't point to a finger, but hold up a number of fingers, which is also unambiguous.
Here is the signs for numbers in the British Sign Language for the Deaf. Most are obvious, although six seems a little strange! Remember that these signs are a language, so you should use the correct fingers, rather than just holding up the right number. If you want to learn more about British Sign Language, see the Royal Association for Deaf people website (under Training Courses).
The Chinese have finger signs for one to ten using just one hand. Click here for a webpage which has photos of these number gestures.
Another signing system is tic-tac, which is used by bookmakers at racecourses to tell each other how the bettings odds are moving. Here is a website from the BBC explaining some of the signs.
© Jo Edkins 2007 - Return to Numbers index