How Finger Counting Works in Different Languages

If someone asks you to count with your fingers, how do you do it? Anand Jagatia writes for the BBC that this practice varies by culture.

Like a good American, I count off starting on my index fingers. Europeans tend to start with the thumb. Iranians start with the pinky finger. In Japan, the norm is to start with an open palm, then curl fingers in as they are counted.

Here’s where it starts to get complicated. In India, it’s common to count off the lines of the finger segments. In Tanzania, both hands are used, with counts switching from hand to hand, forming a symmetrical pattern. The Northern Pame people of Mexio prefer to count on knuckles. The Yuki people of California used to take a different approach: counting the spaces between the fingers. Read about these customs at BBC Future.

-via Kottke

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Wasn't finger counting a clue to the spy in Inglorious Bastards? Ordering drinks he held up two fingers as Americans do instead of thumb and index finger like Germans?
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