LINGUIST List 6.943

Thu Jul 6 1995

Disc: Non-decimal counting systems

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. "leslie h. stennes", Non-decimal counting systems

Message 1: Non-decimal counting systems

Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 10:14:46 Non-decimal counting systems
From: "leslie h. stennes" <>
Subject: Non-decimal counting systems

The Fulfulde language of West Africa is based on fives.
So you have separate words for one through five, from then on:
5+1 for six, then 5+2, 5+3, 5+4. But there is a word for ten:
'sappo' which indicates putting both sets of fingers together.
Then we get 10+1 .... 10+5+4, then a separate word for twenty.
I beleive some dialects use ten times two for twenty.
For thirty, forty, etc. we get 10 x 3 etc. There are separate
words for hundred and thousand. 1000 x 1000 is probably a
practical limit.
I am sure this is not unique in this area of Africa.
Leslie H. Stennes
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