Thursday, April 9

Little Difference #13

Little Difference #13 - Finger Counting

Okay, before I go on with the difference, I have to apologize for my red, worn, nail-less man hands. I tried every editing feature to make them more presentable but nothing was the magic wand I wanted. Au natural it is.

I love this little difference. It makes me giggle. Especially when I think back to some of the early exchanges I've had with baristas and store clerks. Here in Luxembourg (all of Europe?) when using your fingers to count or to show an amount, you start with your thumb. Holding up your thumb means 1, thumb and index finger means 2, thumb, index and middle finger means 3.

In the U.S. you start counting with your index finger - holding up an index finger means 1. You wouldn't use your thumb until showing 5.

I didn't clue into this for quite a while - maybe 2 or 3 months into our move. I read about it in my Living in Luxembourg book about 2 months into our move, but dismissed it as one of those things that isn't really practiced. But then I started to notice. I saw it all over. At the Little Gym when the teacher counted it was always this way. Then I remembered a few harder-than-it-should-have-been experiences I had ordering.

I would say: un cafe, s'il vous plait. And hold up my index finger.
They would say: un ou deux?
I would say: un. And hold up my index again.
They would say: un?
I would say: oui, un. And hold up my index.

I'd think: I know my French is horrible and my accent is ridiculous, but I do know my numbers and I'm making it sooo clear by holding up my finger, what's the problem?

Little did I know that holding up an index finger means 2 EVEN if your thumb is not up as well. Because your index finger is the second finger, it is assumed you mean 2.

Whew. I got it now and LOVE showing off European finger counting ability. When you come visit I'll order for ya. Really, it's no problem. I got it.

13 comments:

Trina said...

Travis says that when we win the lottery and move to Europe, we're taking your Blog as a reference.

Take care,

Trina

Jennifer said...

These are my favorite posts of yours.... I moved from southern Florida to Southern California.... VERY VERY southern california.... as in, I am 5 miles above the mexican border kind of southern. I felt like I should do a "little differences" post of my own. Here the traffic lights are crazy..... in most places the left turning lanes go first, like the order of the lights I mean, then they go yellow then red and the straight lanes (opposing) go for a while... Here it seems totally random. It takes some getting used to I'm telling you :)

elizabeth said...

LoL. My husband talks about this when he was in Korea. thumb for one, index finger for two. He says that people were always egtting two beers at the bar instead of one by accident. By accident....sure....

Lisa said...

That is funny, it just seems "our way" is the only way it would be done. American Sign does do it a bit different too, but I think 1 and 2 are the same and then for 3 you go to the thumb but I could be wrong on that. It has been awhile since my classes!

Becka said...

ASL is similar. 1 is index, 2 is index and middle, and for three you add the thumb.

jojoebi said...

Japan you start with your little finger, so little finger is 1 and thumb is 5 - try it, it is SO much easier LOL. When the get to 6, hold your left hand up, like you do a high five then place your right hand index finger on the left hand palm, 7 is index and middle finger etc.

:o) Rachel said...

You have beautiful hands.

Monkey's Mama said...

When my friend and I were sitting at a cafe in French Switzerland - she ordered one hot chocolate (used that pesky index finger) - she got two :)

This Girl loves to Talk said...

we (australia) count the same as the US it seems ( i never knew it was a way ;) but it is still funny that if you are holding up ONE finger and saying the word for one that they would still give you two... must be ingrained that pointer finger means two

Miriam said...

I always tease dh because he has taught our girls to count like that. (He was raised in Britain.) I'm the odd man out in this house.

Anandi said...

oh wow, this is totally fascinating. i hadn't even thought there might be another way to do it :)

Road Trippers said...

Okay, now I'm DYING to know if you've learned the 2 fingers upside down sign? That's my faaavorite and I use it in the States, too, just for kicks.

Anonymous said...

When we teach preschoolers to count, we start with right little finger. This is so thumb can keep all the other digits in check. It is helps that a child can identify a finger with a number, if you start with thumb, by number three, generally the other fingers open up and the children can't put a number to a finger.

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