Zamfir wrote:Disanidi wrote:That idea that counting started with fingers and toes is a fallacy to begin with. Society has certainly veered in that direction, but counting in general used to be 1, 2, 3, and a lot. A lot being broke into a little lot or a big lot.
Do we have any evidence for this? Low counting numbers in languages seem to have extremely old origins, going back beyond any written source material. And they are nearly always base-10.
I'm pretty sure Disanidi is right. I'm reading my copy of Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers, and here it says "Hunting and gather peoples - such as the aborigines of Australia, Tasmania, and Papua New Guinea - generally have had, or still have, specific names only for the numbers one and two and, sometimes, three, but they can count to as many as six by combining numbers [like two-two for 4 or three-three for 6]... In these languages, speakers refer to everything beyond six as many, much, or plenty." (pg 3)
But where he says that the idea that counting started with fingers and toes is a fallacy, he is certainly wrong. Why do you think Roman Numerals have a special letter for 5 and 10? The Greenlandic counting system uses a base 20 system because it counts on its fingers and toes. Sure, not ALL counting systems began by counting on your fingers and toes but certainly a great deal of them did. Saying that there that that idea is a "fallacy" is just plain wrong.