Whenever I count things, I (like many people) mutter the numbers under my breath. This works fine for numbers up to 12, but after that I slow down. It’s hard to say, “Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen,” and so on, even if one is just mumbling quietly. There are just too many syllables. It gets even slower
in the twenties.

I discovered that I could remedy this situation by saying the letters of the alphabet, rather than numbers. I can recite the alphabet a lot faster than I can say all the natural numbers up to 26. For instance, if I wanted to count how many pots of honey were in the larder, I would “count” them by saying “A, B, C, D,” etc. If I stopped on T, then I would know that there were 20 pots. (It took me about 1 hour of studying to learn the number associated with each letter.)

That worked fine for counting up to 26. At first, for numbers up to 52 I simply repeated the alphabet after I got to Z, and add 26 to the number of whatever letter I stopped on, but I found it difficult to remember if I was on the first or second recitation of the alphabet.

To solve that problem, I started saying the alphabet backwards the second time. (It took about 1 day to learn the alphabet backwards, and also learn all the numbers associated with the backwards letters.) So, for instance, if I were counting how many pairs of socks I had, and I finished up on F going backwards, then I would know I had 47 pairs of socks.

That worked fine for counting up to 52. I extended my range up to 104 by repeating the forward and backward alphabet, but in the voice of Queen Elizabeth the second time. Then again I extended to 208 by repeating everything again, but with a ridiculous French accent.

To summarize, the way to count up to 208 using letters instead of number is:

Alphabet
Alphabet backwards
Alphabet as the Queen
Alphabet backwards as the Queen
Alphabet with a French accent
Alphabet backwards with a French accent
Alphabet as the Queen with a French accent
Alphabet backwards as the Queen with a French accent

Of course if you want to hold your breath for thirty seconds by counting, "one thousand, two thousand, three thousand..." as letters, you might get blue in the face.

I've developed a habit of saying "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-Ten-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-Twenty---" when required to speed-count. But I admit I haven't tried to count 20 pots of honey in the larder.

and to think of the silly ways we have been teaching numeracy skills up till now. tut, tut. if you ask me, one can never start too early in developing a healthy sense of the ridiculous.

This is also a good technique when you need to count different groups of things at the same time. For example, take about 20 playing cards, and, flipping them over one by one, try to count how many spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs there are.

You will do well to count the spades in English, the hearts in French, the clubs in Spanish, and the diamonds as letters of the alphabet. This way your 4 counts don't interfere with each other.

Does no one have fingers? Count to 10, then hold up a finger. Repeat with other fingers on one hand. When you get to 50, close your hand and extend a finger from the other hand. This method gets you up to 300 (further if the finger order comes into play, but I won't get into that).

I use that base 6 system all the time. Each finger on your right hand counts 1. Each finger on your left hand counts 6.
Start out using your right hand: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...

When you get to "five" and you need to add one, close all your right-hand fingers and open the first left hand finger.
For example, ...|| _ |||.. on your fingers is the number 15 (= 6*2 + 3).

You can go up to 35 on both hands. If you remember a carryover digit, then 72.

There's a system that lets you count to 9 on one hand (hence 99 on two hands), but this makes use of your opposable thumb and is not as easy to be fluent in.

[jutta] It’s true that T (said in a regular voice) could signify either 20 or 33, but I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to remember if I’m going backwards or forwards through the alphabet. In my mind the T in the backward alphabet is different from the regular T. On paper, of course, they are identical, but if I were writing it, I would just write the number 20 or 33.

[world] The finger method is hard to do if you’re picking up the things that you are counting, for instance, when you’re taking inventory after a worm collecting trip.

I also forgot to mention that this method will not work if you usually have a French accent, or talk like the Queen.

Very clever, AO, as well as being theatrical. I, however, have just learned how to use my hangercus ... end ay done neeed yor seely cownteeng metheds! +

Her majesty wishes to inform you that We are not
enthused; as We will have trouble differentiating our
alphabet renderings while counting Our stacks of paper
and metal portraits, We deem the idea indubitably wack.

Had some tricky math work to figure out yesterday so I tried counting and adding up using this method but got confused and recited the alphabet backwards as *a* queen. I have subsequently lost my job as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In counting measures in music (especially if you play a
seldom used instrument like the cymbals) we are taught
early to count like this: 1,2,3,4 - 2,2,3,4 - 3,2,3,4. ect. It
works great!

you might find that >>> when counting things that stack up, like cards or pennies or papers or peices of metal, such that you either a) flip through or b) run a fingernail across the "steps" of the stack >>> in such a time your mind can automatically register "tens" as they flip by and you can count to, say, 257 in about 10 seconds, with complete accuracy.

I like it. Especially the accents. Quadriligual folks like myself can run through each of the four languages before resorting to the accents. But Chisanbop (linked) still is best for speed counting - no hour long study required.

Wow. Can't belive you learned all that. I'm gonna try it, but when people hear me muttering the alphabet backwards in an accent under my breath they might think I'm kinda losing it... a crecent for you!

Once my dad went to an interview for a job in programming, to test his fluency with computers he was asked what number he could count up to on his hands... have you spotted the answer yet?...

Well, count in Binary? If one finger is up that's 1, if it's folded over it's 0... then look at your digits (hehe - bad pun...yes...)...

If he is only using his fingers, 1023 Ossalisk. However he should be able to get at least an extra bit of information from the orientation of his hands, so at least 4095. But then again, if he could hold any fingers in more than two non-ambiguous positions he could do more. How many things did they want him to count on his fingers?

Or as my friend just pointed out, he could use his hands to hold a calculator, or a pencil for arbritrarily large numbers.

//In counting measures in music (especially if you play a seldom used instrument like the cymbals) we are taught early to count like this: 1,2,3,4 - 2,2,3,4 - 3,2,3,4. ect. It works great!//

Same way we counted push-ups, jumping-jacks, and other "excersices" during military boot camp.

[5th] 0..1023 using binary
1024..2047 using binary backwards
2048..3071 using binary as the Queen
...
7168..8191 using binary, backwards as the Queen with a French accent

1. Chop off all 10 fingers
2. Place on a table like this: - - - - - - - - - -
3. Count in base-4: - = 0; \ = 1; | = 2; / = 3.
4. Place digits in plastic bag for later use.

Koreans count to ten on one hand...
Start with a closed hand. Extend the thumb for one. Add the index finger for two.... open palm is five. Then fold the thumb in for six. Fold the index finger over the thumb for seven... on up to ten.

It's pretty easy to learn and easy to use.
Add the other hand to count to 100.

Count in binary, fingers and toes, and you can get to a million. Mind you, trying to make my fingers and toes look French has presented difficulties which prevent this method extending to two million and beyond.

Why not hexaicosamal or hexaicosanary? Basically, I propose a number system of base 26. Our base 10 system is quite anthropocentric, after all, being founded on our two sets of ten biological digits.