After watching Inglorious Bastards and the ‘finger-counting scene’ in the bar – I was intrigued to find out if different nationalities really do count numbers differently on their hands.
If you don’t know the scene I mean… here you go:
So after some ‘intensive investigating’ at one of the few places in Tokyo that foreigners congregate – I was genuinely shocked by how different we all are!
Here’s what I found:
North America and UK
When someone from North America or the UK count numbers on their hand it starts with the extension of the index finger (number 1) and continues to the little finger (number 4). The ‘number 5’ is then represented by extending all the fingers and thumb. The exact same process is repeated on the other hand if you want to count up to 10.
If an English man wants 8 fish and chips he opens one palm entirely and on the other extends the index and two middle fingers.
(i.e. Germans, Italians, Spanish, French)
When Western Europeans count numbers on their hands the thumb represents the ‘number 1’ and the index finger is ‘number 2’ and so on and so forth… with the little finger representing the ‘number 5’. Fingers are generally extended while counting, beginning at the thumb and finishing at the little finger.
If a German wanted to order 3 Bratwurst she would use her thumb, index, middle finger.
Chinese count numbers in exactly the same as the UK and North America… but counting from 6 to 10 gets kind of funky!
Instead of explaining it’s easier if I just show you…
In Japan count numbers up to 5 on one hand is the same as the UK and North America with the index finger representing the ‘number 1’ the thumb representing the ‘number 5’. For 6 to 10 the appropriate numbers of fingers from the other hand are placed against an open palm.
If a Japanese man wants to order 7 bits of sushi he simply places his index and middle finger against his open palm.
And that’s it for my ‘extensive’ research at my language school….
If you count differently in your country don’t be shy to post a comment below and teach us all your freaky ways 😉
Happy travels and good luck exploring!