I mentioned the strange counting system used by the **Maisin** people of **coastal New Guinea**, in my Why Study Austronesian Numbers? post.

Their numbers went:

**1 – sesei **

**2 – sandi**

3 – sinati

4 – fusese

5 – fakete

6 – faketi-tarosi-taure-sesei

7 – faketi-tarosi-taure-sandi

8 – faketi tarosi taure sinati

9 – faketi tarosi taure fusese

10- faketi tau tau

It helps to understand it when you learn that* ***fakete**** (5) is ****hand**.

**6** is **faketi-tarosi-taure-sesei** = **hand-one side-other side-one**.

But other New Guinea Papuan language groups take the body-part tallying to extremes.

The **Oksapmin** developed a body-part counting system that went beyond one hand, up the arm to the head, and then down the other side. The Oksapmin example results in a numbering system of base 27.

They also had to memorise each of the 27 body-part names:

(1)* tip^na*, (2) *tipnarip,* (3) *bum rip*, (4) *h^tdip*, (5) *h^th^ta*, (6) *dopa*, (7) *besa*, (8) *kir,* (9) *tow^t,* (10) *kata, *(11) *gwer*, (12) *nata,* (13) *kina,* (14) *aruma,* (15) *tan-kina*, (16) *tan-nata*, (17) *tan-gwer*, (18) *tan-kata*, (19) *tan-tow^t*, (20) *tan-kir*, (21) *tan-besa*, (22) *tan-dopa*, (23) *tan-tip^na*, (24) *tan-tipnarip*, (25) *tan-bum rip, *(26) *tan-h^tdip*, (27) *tan-h^th^ta.s*

It’s easier than it looks – you only have to go up one side, and then repeat the same names in reverse, down the other.

Most numbering systems started with finger-tallying, and the **physical way this was done** affects the number words that were derived from it.

When you get to 5, it’s an

**open hand**. In certain places around New Guinea, where this kind of finger-counting occurred, the words for number 5 should reflect just this.

**Filipinos**, for example, start with a closed fist, extending fingers one by one, starting with the smallest |

But in other parts, they fold their fingers down, one by one, stating with one – the little finger of the left ‘weak’ hand. |

Or six can be the little finger on the second, left hand.

In **Gadsup**, 6 = *apä?tä?te mänayemänä?i* – 1 added to ‘weak hand’

So 5 = closed fist, or sometimes, ‘thumb’.

In Bargam, the word for 5 is *abainakinta* (thumb-1); thumb is *abainagin*.

*Fist* should show up in many of the number words for 5, as well. (Trouble is, I don’t know many Papuan languages, and not many travelling language recorders wrote down words for ‘fist’).

**I’ll find the connections someday **

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