Hi, I'm Laura. I'm 27, single and live in Cardiff. I'm an eater, a cook, a blogger, and a soon-to-be UX designer. I love TV, movies, rollercoasters, and dinosaurs. I have a stegosaurus tattooed on my foot, and leaves on my hip. Chances are you'll find this blog full of fluffy baby animals, delicious cakes and random musings about my day. I also run and moderate:
Put down your coffee for a moment. Now, without thinking about it too much, use your hands to count to 10.
How did you do it? Did you start with the left hand, or the right? Did you begin counting on a thumb, or with a pinkie? Maybe you started on an index finger? And did you begin with a closed fist, or an open hand?
If you’re European, there’s a good chance you started with closed fists, and began counting on the thumb of the left hand. If you’re from the Middle East, you probably also started with a closed fist, but began counting with the little finger of the right hand.
Most Chinese people, and many North Americans, also use the closed-fist system, but begin counting on an index finger, rather than the thumb. The Japanese typically start from an open-hand position, counting by closing first the little finger, and then the remaining digits.
In India, it’s common to make use of finger segments to get as many as 20 counts from each hand. It’s even been reported that the Amazonian Pirah people don’t use their fingers to count at all.
Finger counting feels as natural as breathing – but it’s not innate, or even, apparently, universal. There are actually many different techniques, and they are culturally transmitted.