Re: Mayan numerals

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 19:55:11 -0700

On 8/23/2012 5:52 PM, Jameson Quinn wrote:
> 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.

Yeah, others have pointed that out privately - 19 is such an attractive
number, being prime and all, it slipped in. :)

> 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).

Make sure you have an image of that in your proposal.

Received on Thu Aug 23 2012 - 21:58:03 CDT

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