https://www.duolingo.com/LavethWolf

Languages without a base 10 number system?

LavethWolf
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I would like to know if there are still languages out there that primarily use a non base 10 number system, or a system that is base 10, but contains a number of digits that don't match up to 10 ( such as Roman Numerals ). Or if anyone can list a language that perhaps once used a non base 10 number system in the past.

( obligatory drawing to go with my post )

1 year ago

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Chilotin
Chilotin
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English number system is not exactly base 10: "eleven", "twelve", "(13-19)teen". The same for Romance languages whith things like "once" (11); French adds a bonus with its quatre-vingt (4-20=80) and quatre-vingt-dix (4-20-10 = 90). This mixed system is different to fully base 10 number systems, such as in Andean languages: 11 = 10-1, 12 = 10-2, etc

I've read Mayan and other Mesoamerican languages have base 20 systems. There are many languages with base 2 and base 5 number systems, an example is Kawésqar, where 1 is takso, 2 is woks and 3 is wokstow (2-other).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/E.T.Gregor
E.T.Gregor
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Under "By type of notation", there are quite a few languages named in this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_numeral_systems
Gumulgal (an Australian language not on the above list) has a base two counting system. And then there's the famous example of Pirahã, which doesn't really count at all.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
sloggerPlus
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And there are the tree frogs in Terry Pratchett's "Bromeliad" trilogy (Diggers, Truckers, Wings), who tried really hard but could never count past the number one.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/E.T.Gregor
E.T.Gregor
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And don't forget the Troll's counting system: One, two, three, many... many-one, many-two etc.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
sloggerPlus
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Ah, that book of his I haven't read, although my wife says that she has. You wouldn't happen to remember the title, would you? I'd love to read it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Georgian is fairly vigesimal. My grammar sources indicate that any number above 4 in Guaraní may originate only after European contact.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
sloggerPlus
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Like Chilotin, I thought the Maya used a base-20 numbering system, but acc. to this article they used base 90.

Computer programmers often count in hexadecimal (base 16) for convenience, rather than use base 2. For a white my wife liked to compute her age in base 16, so that she wouldn't have reached 29 yet, but she's had to up the base w/in the last decade.

1 year ago
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