Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

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klausok
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Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby klausok » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:04 am UTC

The original Greenlandic system has words only for numbers up to six. Seven is "six and two". (Why not "six and one? No idea.) Even counting to 20 is somewhat complicated in this system, so modern Greenlandic has imported the Danish number system.

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Iulus Cofield
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Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:25 am UTC


tyrus
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Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby tyrus » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:15 am UTC

Don't forget you can count to twelve on one hand using your thumb as place holder. Each finger has 3 segments.

1/3, 1/4, 1/2 and all derivatives are equally divisable in base 12 vs .333333333 repeating in base 10
Thus easy non-metric ( cup, quart , etc.)..... Metrics was invented around late 1700's by the French because there inch was smaller
Our calendar, has 12 months, our day 12 hours times two.


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Eugo
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Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Eugo » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:23 am UTC

tyrus wrote:Our calendar, has 12 months, our day 12 hours times two.

The latter annoyed me a lot. I'm so used to the European day, which has 24 hours. Amazingly, I've seen some XIX century posters (for, IIRC, Buffalo Bill's shows) where the times announced were 17:30 and such. Nowadays, the only places where the 24 hour day is respected in the US is the military and Walmart (check your receipt, the timestamp is in the 24 hour format).

OTOH, the days of the week in slavic languages is a bit of a funny business. Instead of names of any gods, the names are derived from numbers... well, most of them. Tuesday is utorak/vtornik/torek and such, where vtor- means 2nd. Thursday is četvrtak/četrtek/четверг etc, where the četv- means 4th. And friday is petak/petek/pátek/петък/пятница, from pet-, 5th. Saturday is almost universally subota (from sabbath), and sunday is derived from nedelja/неделя and such, from ne-dela, doesn't-work, i.e. the day off; and then monday is ponedeljak/понеделник and such, meaning "post sunday". The three days named after their numbers obviously show that monday is consideredthe first day of the week, but then wednesday is sreda - the middle - as if the week started on sunday. Hungarian, being surrounded by slavic neighbors, borrowed a few - from wednesday to saturday - and the word for tuesday is kedd - derived from kettő, i.e. number two. Sunday is vasárnap - "the day of the fair", and monday is hétfő - "the seven's main".

More on topic - I think special names for certain numbers, like dozen for 12 in many languages, or сорок (sorok) for 40 in russian, don't necessarily mean they are remnants of some different number base. The above excursion into calendar is just an example of how there may not necessarily be any system applied across the board. Wednesday being called the middle of the week which begins on monday is just the same kind of exception as those special names for 12, 20, 40 and 60 that we find.
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tyrus
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Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby tyrus » Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:20 pm UTC

It depends on what you consider it the middle of. Many consider Monday the start of there week, and if you say Monday through Friday is a work week, then Wednesday is the middle. Some do consider Sunday the start, and most commercial calendars list Sunday on the left.

As for time. The Westminster clock tower only lists 12 hours at a time.

(check wikipedia.... I removed the link since the system considered it spam)


I have seen 24 hour clocks usually with 13-23 listed in red on an inner circle, and I have seen advertisements for a 24 hour watch, but listing 12 gives a better buffer weather you use a 12 hour am/pm or 24 hour system.

Other than that clock, I am not familiar with the clocks of Europe, but even considering a 24 hour once around clock, talking about base 12 saying 12 times 2 sets the context and shows the example linking base 12 to it.

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Eugo
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Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby Eugo » Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:40 pm UTC

tyrus wrote:It depends on what you consider it the middle of. Many consider Monday the start of there week, and if you say Monday through Friday is a work week, then Wednesday is the middle. Some do consider Sunday the start, and most commercial calendars list Sunday on the left.

That depends on where you are, it's a local thing. Around here you can't find a calendar where the week would start on sunday, unless you visit a local website where lazy programmers didn't bother to localize the widgets they use.

As for wednesday being the middle of the work week, that's much newer than the language. Saturday was a regular workday all the way into 1950s and 60s. I went to school every one of them up to middle seventies. But wednesday is the middle of the week if it starts on sunday... which contradicts the other numeric names of the days. I guess (just a WAG) that at some point, when today's calendar was introduced to slavic people, there was some difference of opinion on when does the week start, so we see remnants of both.

I have seen 24 hour clocks usually with 13-23 listed in red on an inner circle, and I have seen advertisements for a 24 hour watch, but listing 12 gives a better buffer weather you use a 12 hour am/pm or 24 hour system.

Other than that clock, I am not familiar with the clocks of Europe, but even considering a 24 hour once around clock, talking about base 12 saying 12 times 2 sets the context and shows the example linking base 12 to it.

Which was all fine for mechanical clocks. Now that they're all digital (even those with analog display, i.e. figures and hands), I prefer those with large digits and 24-hour cycle. So when I wake up at 5:30 I know it's morning - with the 12-hour cycle, it could actually be 17:30 and I'd be confused out of my skull (which did happen a few times).
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Re: Non Base-10 Number Systems in Languages

Postby frogthroat » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:41 am UTC

cybermutiny wrote:Is anyone aware of a language or culture (from past or present) that did not use one?
I knew Babylonian, Mayan, French and Danish use(d) strange bases, but checking Wikipedia revealed there's plenty more:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_numeral_systems#Standard

cntrational wrote:A simpler explanation would be that humans have 10 fingers.
This is also my assumption. Base 10 and that number 1 is a long stroke is probably derived from fingers.

hagow wrote:Although you can count binary on your fingers, if you stretch.
I use this when I go grocery shopping. I like to count the total in my head, and keep track of it with fingers. However, one hand rarely is enough, therefore I have been practising ternary. Although that requires much more nimble fingers than I have. Probably because tendons in middle and ring fingers.
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