Geeking Science: Anumeric

Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash

Did you know some languages do not have numbers? Few, some, or many is all humans needed for the longest time. Eventually one-two-three became useful. Then, likely, five to ten, and, taking off the shoes, got you to twenty.

English even hints at the importance of the most basic numbers – one through ten – being easy-to-pronounce and short-to-spell. Eleven and twelve continue the uniqueness. After that, everything is duplicates – the teens, twenties and so forth. One through ten came first, and came first a long time in the language world before even eleven and twelve, let alone “high” numbers like fifteen.

Would numbers be different for other species? 

Caleb Everett discusses in “‘Anumeric’ people: What happens when a language has no words for numbers?” (published 25 April 2017) cultures in humanity where number do not exist or exist on a minimal level.

How fun would this be to bring to a sci-fi worldbuilding? Read the article – the one line about how minutes and seconds coming from Mesopotamia gives me so many ideas.