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Thread: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

  1. #21
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by melissambwilkins
    I was once told that Spanish-speakers count on their fingers starting with their thumb, not their index fingers as people in the United States usually do. The progression, therefore, would be thumb, index, .... to pinky for the numbers 1-5.

    I cannot find ANY verification of this in any of my "gestures" books, previous discussions in any forums, or anything!

    So... if you are a native of or traveler to any of the Spanish-Speaking countries in the world, how DO people count on their fingers there? Thumbs first? Index first? Other?

    Thanks for your help!

    Melissa MB Wilkins
    I'm Serbian and I start with the thumb too...

    How can you possibly start with index finger? it's not logical...

  2. #22
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by saturnian
    I think that whether you are left or right-handed could also play a part in this... because being right-handed I count from the thumb to the little finger on my left hand using a finger on my right hand... but if I were left-handed then I'm sure I'd count from the little finger to the thumb on my right hand using a finger on my left hand (...hope that makes sense).

    However, I still don't understand why people in the USA apparently start with the index finger... As Lavinia has said: "Does this imply that they can only count up to 8 with their 2 hands?
    Sorry, I have to dissapoint you.
    I am totally left handed, and I start from the thumb.Of my left hand, though....

  3. #23
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    It's okay, you didn't disappoint me.
    I said if I were left-handed I'm sure I would count that way (if I was using my other hand to count), but reading your reply and the others, maybe I wouldn't...
    Quote Originally Posted by natasha2000
    How can you possibly start with index finger? it's not logical...
    I agree. Can anyone from the USA explain this to us?

  4. #24
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    What is the first number that you start counting with? #1
    When someone asks you "how many do you want?" and you only want one, which finger do you hold up? The index finger, with the other fingers closed in a semi-fist.
    Therefore, when I hold my hand out, palm up, fingers pointing away from me, I start counting by touching one index finger to the other.
    Why? Because my brain considers the index finger as "finger number one".

    My other fingers automatically fold inward to make room for the other hand, and then each finger extends as I count "2" (middle finger), "3" (ring finger), "4" (pinkie) and "5" has lots of emphasis as the thumb pops out.

    I recently returned to this style of counting after many, many years spent counting with my pinkie (little finger) as the first finger. Why did I change? Because nonverbally, starting to count with your pinkie as the first finger sends the message that you are weak -- especially for men.
    Last edited by fenixpollo; 31st July 2006 at 2:22 PM.
    Ignorance --> fear --> anger --> hate --> violence. || Knowledge => tolerance => acceptance => love => peace.

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by fenixpollo
    What is the first number that you start counting with? #1
    When someone asks you "how many do you want?" and you only want one, which finger do you hold up? The index finger, with the other fingers closed in a semi-fist.

    Therefore, when I hold my hand out, palm up, fingers pointing away from me, I start counting by touching one index finger to the other.
    Why? Because my brain considers the index finger as "finger number one".

    My other fingers automatically fold inward to make room for the other hand, and then each finger extends as I count "2" (middle finger), "3" (ring finger), "4" (pinkie) and "5" has lots of emphasis as the thumb pops out.

    I recently returned to this style of counting after many, many years spent counting with my pinkie as the first finger. Why did I change? Because nonverbally, starting to count with your pinkie as the first finger sends the message that you are weak -- especially for men.
    Good thinking. Yes, when I have to show only 1 or two, I will show index finger or if it is two, then index finger and the middle one. But this is not counting. This is showing how much.

    Pinkie? The little one?
    I saw people starting to count with little finger, but it still seems wierd to me. I also unfold fingers from the fist, so if I see someone who folds down the fingers from the open hand to fist, it looks wierd, too...

    But I guess that if someone from Mexico or USA saw me counting, I would seem wierd to them too...

  6. #26
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Personally, I find it hard to stretch out your little finger and then the ring finger (I need some help from my other hand (I know, I'm not very supple that's pathetic but usually the fourth finger can't move as well as the others)).

    If I say just one, with the index finger, it would look a bit strange for me, I would have the impression to try to attract attention and ask people to be quiet or telling off a child.
    And with 2 fingers, I just can't do it with the index finger and the middle finger (for the reason I mentioned previously). And I could use these fingers only if I turned my hand round but it's a bit difficult and not really convenient.

    So, not sure there's a pattern in the end. I had never thought about that either, before (just before I lost my innocence reading that thread) I had always thought people started counting with their first fingers - as called in music - that is, their thumbs.

  7. #27
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    If I am counting just for myself I will lift my left hand, palm facing me, fingers folded, and start counting with the thumb. If I am counting to show someone else something, then my palm is facing the interlocutor and I start counting with the little finger. I think the principle is going from left to right. It is my impression.

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    We're number 1!
    We're number 1!
    Yeah, NUMBER ONE!!

    What finger would that be?

    Anyway, I think it depends on how you were taught to count when you were a little kid. I learned that you started with a closed fist and unfolder fingers as you went along like this:
    1= index
    2= middle
    3= ring
    4= pinky
    5= thumb

    ... and because I learned it in this manner, I taught my children to do it the same way. They'll probably teach their children and so on and so forth, so in a few generations we will have a tiny little pocket of resistance against the evil forces of pinky-first counters.
    Bye now.
    ¿88 relatos descarriados? Un leve desliz…

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    We're number 1!
    We're number 1!
    Yeah, NUMBER ONE!!
    Dani, I think not...jejejejejej

    According to all those posts everybody but Americans and Mexicans start from the thumb, so:
    1 - thumb
    2 - index
    3 - middle
    4 - ring
    5 pinkie

    Americans start from index, and Mexicans from pinkie...

    Am I right or am I right?

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Thanks for that summary.

    I've just realized that to show 4 I "hide" my thumb and show my other fingers.
    In some cases, it's just a question of practicability. I'm not good enough just to fold my little finger.
    Last edited by DearPrudence; 26th July 2006 at 10:44 AM.

  11. #31
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by DearPrudence
    Thanks for that summary.

    I've just realized that to show 4 I "hide" my thumb and show my other fingers.
    In some cases, it's just a question of practicality. I'm not good enough just to fold my little finger.
    Yes, TO SHOW 4 I do the same. It is somehow uncomfortable to have only pikie one folded down...

    But when I count, it goes thumb, index, middle, ring....

  12. #32
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    I recently started learning Chinese. When we got to the lesson about "numbers" the teacher not only told us what the numbers are called, written and pronounced, but also how you show them. It is completely different to the way we do it around here.
    To begin with, you have signs from 1 to 9 that are done with only 1 hand (that means you don't need your 2 hands to show number "8") The teacher told us that this culture was developed because of language problems, this way, everybody would understand what number one was referring to.

    I found a web with pictures of the gestures here.
    All generalizations are false, including this one. Mark Twain

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    How interesting, Belen!

    Well, if I have to show numbers (not to count) I would do the same until five, with the exception of number 3. In the picture, index, middle and ring fingers are raised. I would do it with thumb, index and middle finger.

  14. #34
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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by danielfranco
    We're number 1!
    We're number 1!
    Yeah, NUMBER ONE!!

    What finger would that be?

    I think I'd stick my thumbs up to express that sentiment, like this: !

    After having said that the people around me here in Mexico count starting with the little finger, which they fold in, my husband (who is Mexican) says that when he counts on his fingers, he does it the way Daniel says, but that he does it that way because he finds it difficult to fold his fingers in starting with the little finger (like Prudence and Natasha said). Mind you, he also said that he doesn't actually count on his fingers, unless it is for the benefit of others (eg, with children), and that the numbers look clearer if you start with the index finger. Hmm.

    So perhaps there is no general rule in Mexico... and perhaps it depends as much on whether we are counting or showing as on where we are. I do count on my fingers, starting with my thumb, but I will show my index and middle fingers in a bar to get 2 more beers brought across. I wouldn't in England, though...

    And as for raising just my index finger, I'd feel like I was asking a teacher if I could speak, or go to the toilet, or in an audience participation moment when someone asks, 'How many of you have ever travelled by train?'.

    Oh, and what an interesting link, Belen!

    Saludos.
    L
    A buen entendedor, pocas palabras.

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by loladamore
    And as for raising just my index finger, I'd feel like I was asking a teacher if I could speak, or go to the toilet, or in an audience participation moment when someone asks, 'How many of you have ever travelled by train?'.
    how interesting, Lola.... In Serbia, children do that with two fingers in the air - index and middle one.

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Dany, that´s the way we count in argentina.!!!

    1 - thumb
    2 - index
    3 - middle
    4 - ring
    5 - pinkie

    bye!

    Vero

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by natasha2000
    how interesting, Lola.... In Serbia, children do that with two fingers in the air - index and middle one.
    A bit off-topic: In France as well schoolchildren raise just their index fingers.
    (with the index and the middle ones I would have the impression of saying "peace and love, man" )
    And when they're a bit taller they just raise their hands.

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by DearPrudence
    A bit off-topic: In France as well schoolchildren raise just their index fingers.
    (with the index and the middle ones I would have the impression of saying "peace and love, man" )
    And when they're a bit taller they just raise their hands.
    Yes, I understand your point of view

    But I still remember the teacher saying: Don't speak everybody at once, raise your two fingers and wait until I give you a word."

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    When ordering drinks for my family in Germany, I held up four fingers (starting with my index) for clarification in our loud surroundings. He looked puzzled, asking "fünf?" when I thought it was plain that I wanted "vier". Someone nearby explained the situation to me, and I've taken that bit of knowledge with me on other trips.

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    Re: How do Spanish-Speakers count on their fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rozax
    When ordering drinks for my family in Germany, I held up four fingers (starting with my index) for clarification in our loud surroundings. He looked puzzled, asking "fünf?" when I thought it was plain that I wanted "vier". Someone nearby explained the situation to me, and I've taken that bit of knowledge with me on other trips.
    Rozax, can you explain it to us, as they explained it to you, please?

    So, four fingers stretched and a thumb folded (if I understood well) is 5 in Germany? Then, how do they show 4?

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