Re: Mayan numerals

From: Jameson Quinn <>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 18:52:12 -0600

2012/8/23 Asmus Freytag <>
> ... there's apparently widespread use of just the digit system, in,
> presumably (waiting for the documented details here) a modern, streamlined
> base-19 system.

It's a detail, but I can't let this pass uncorrected. Just as the digits
0-9 make a base-10 system, the digits 0-19 make a base-20 system. Though
most speakers of the ~28 modern Mayan languages use Spanish (or in Belize,
English) for spoken numbers past 5 or so, there are certainly some who use
a full traditional number system, in which the word for "20" is the same as
the word for "man" — that is, a count of fingers and toes. 21 (11 if you
were using Mayan digits) is said as something like "second man's one"; that
is, just as the year 1850 is in the nineteenth century, the spoken form of
the higher digits is one above the written form.

But none of that has anything to do with the proposal, it's just
interesting facts.

I'll get to work on this proposal. I won't finish it in a day, but I'll try
to have something ready before the next b'ak'tun.

Oh: another relevant modern use of the glyphs: Guatemalan bills show their
denomination in both Arabic and Mayan numerals. The highest bill existing
currently is Q200; I'm hoping the next one is Q400 (100 in Mayan) instead
of Q500 (150 in Mayan).

Received on Thu Aug 23 2012 - 19:54:44 CDT

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