# What finger counting reveals about you

I hear you. I can’t even do the Scout Salute without using my other hand to bend my pinky finger under my thumb.

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Came here for this.

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For example, if you’re from the UK or many parts of Europe, you probably start counting with the thumb

Nope. In the UK we start with the index finger. Thumb is for 5, with all the fingers up. In Germany, where I’m living, everyone starts with their thumb and I find it weird every time. Even (especially) when my son does it.

When I was in junior school, a teacher taught me to count to nine on one hand. Use index finger to pinky for 1 to 4, thumb alone is 5, re-add fingers to get 6 to 9. Use the other hand for tens. I still use it occasionally when I need to count quite a lot of something. It’s fast.

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If that was Lefty Scaevola, maybe even not two.

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4 and 132 are particularly exciting.

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Yeah, they must mean the tip as well, but still only 19.

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A deaf person from where?

“… in Japan they start with the fingers extended in an open palm, drawing them in to make a closed fist…”

This sounds like something I’ve seen done in some old comedy routine… except the fist is then used to clock someone.

From the US

I remembered the signs wrong, but my way makes more sense. So it stuck.

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For those following at home:

ASL is derived form LSF (Langue des signes française), but their counting signs are different, not least because where ASL uses one-handed signs to count to ten (ASL Numbers 1-10 | Sign Language - YouTube), LSF uses two hands for 6-10 (Les chiffres de 0 à 100 en langue des signes (vocabulaire en LSF) - YouTube).

Auslan is derived from BSL, and they both use basically the same one-handed system, distinct from ASL and LSF. (Auslan Online: Numbers 0 to 10 - YouTube)

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Ha! I was taught Chisanbop but never knew the name for it. My kids picked it up from me, because counting to 99 on the fingers is a kind of superpower.

ETA: Oddly, I did not go to a progressive elementary school in Santa Monica. I went to a redneck school in northern Canada in the 70s. I’m flabbergasted that the idea spread that far in a pre-internet world.

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TIL that’s called Chisanbop, mentioned above. I find it super-useful when counting 10 to 100 of something.

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Thanks! I had no idea what it was called or where it came from. I’ve no idea how a teacher in rural England came to know about it, but it was in the late 70s.

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I could have sworn there used to be a joke about how finger counting revealed a certain level of intelligence. Doesn’t sound particularly funny anymore, especially now that I’ve started finger counting. The process reminds me of using a GPS; things we used to do “in our heads” just doesn’t happen nearly as frequently anymore.

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If I can get somewhere without a map, I can get there without a map. Otherwise, I tend to need a map, GPS, and any help I can get. There’s not much gray area in between.

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Oh, if I need to integrate something, I’ll do it in my head. But if I need to count a whole load of little things (n <100), counting on my fingers works pretty well.

And yes, I can still read a map. Although I’ll let Google tell me which roads to drive.

There’s plenty of room in the universe for both. Strawberries and ice cream. Steak and chips. Finger counting and mental arithmetic.

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