Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Quicker Counting

A faster way to count up to two-hundred and eight
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,

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 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

AO, Jul 10 2003

Chisanbop http://mathforum.or...ath/view/58778.html
Lightning fast finger counting [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]


       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.
FarmerJohn, Jul 10 2003

       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.
Amos Kito, Jul 10 2003

       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.
po, Jul 10 2003

       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.
phundug, Jul 10 2003

       I don't speak spanish, can I do french with an american accent? or the queen perhaps with a spanish accent?
po, Jul 10 2003

       you are, on another level, counting as Amos does. its automatic.   

       I can count yards of figures as long as I don't try to think about it. the minute its on a conscious level it goes completely to pot.
po, Jul 10 2003

       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).
Worldgineer, Jul 10 2003

       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.
phundug, Jul 10 2003

       1 dot-dot-dot 208. FIN
thumbwax, Jul 10 2003

       [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.
AO, Jul 10 2003

       .sdrawkcab lleps ylno nac rO
Worldgineer, Jul 10 2003

       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! +
k_sra, Jul 10 2003

       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.
n-pearson, Jul 10 2003

       Utterly preposterous. +
snarfyguy, Jul 10 2003

       Bah. We do everything on computers nowadays. And staplers. Computers and staplers.
sambwiches, Jul 10 2003

       top! im going to start actually using this idea.
barkinghugh, Jul 11 2003

       What snarfyguy said (in a Waffen SS accent).
saker, Jul 11 2003

       I'll see your Q croissants, and raise you A. But not too frequently.
egbert, Jul 11 2003

       Or, just pick a different language, and start over from 1.
RayfordSteele, Jul 11 2003

       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.
Nickynackynoo, Jul 11 2003

       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!
jon3, Jul 11 2003

       You could count to 1023 on your fingers using a binary system, but + for //the Queen with a French accent //
modular, Nov 08 2003

       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.   

       Also, you can win bets with this.
hlfbkr23, Nov 08 2003

       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.
bungston, Nov 08 2003

       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!
getslostalot21, Nov 12 2003

       Dont try this technique counting seconds if you're Greek:   

       "Alpha... beta... gamma... delta... epsilon... zeta... eta... theta... iota... kappa..."   

       You'll never catch up!
Epimenides, Dec 07 2003

       Combine the fingers and counting:   

       So the easiest method:   

       Raise finger after every 10. and count from 1 to 10..   

       Total = 10 * (raised fingers) + counting.   

       Reminds me of Roman Numerals. So upto 100 easily possible this way.   

       Then right down.., don't keep on counting in head.., Because you have two many things.
artist, Feb 03 2004

       Too things two many.
k_sra, Feb 03 2004

       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...)...
Ossalisc, Mar 25 2004

       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.
Loris, Jun 15 2004

       //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.
gardnertoo, Jul 03 2004

       I once heard of a medieval christian monk who figured out a way to count to something like 10,000 on his fingers. I don't know how though.
5th Earth, Jul 04 2004

       [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

       That's close enough to 10K.
shibolim, Jul 04 2004

       How to count to 1,048,575 on your fingers:   

       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.
phundug, Jul 06 2004

       [AO] You have 47 pairs of socks???? Thats a lot of socks.
energy guy, Jul 06 2004

       I find it's fine and dandy just to use my fingers to count in binary. You can get up to 1023 before using your toes.   

       BTW: Bread for thinking of counting things using the reverse alphabet as Queen Elizabeth, the French stereotype.
shapu, Jul 06 2004

       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.
samk, Jul 06 2004

       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.
david_scothern, Jul 06 2004

       Binary to a million! I can only get to 1024. (Of course, that's without any reverse French.)
ldischler, Jul 06 2004

       <ldischler> Binary with 20 digits equals 2^20=1,048,576 (I can put my socks back on now.)
gardnertoo, Jul 29 2004

       Or you could just count silently rather than actually saying the numbers.
apocalyps956, Jul 20 2006

       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.   

       ...ZZX, ZZY, ZZZ, AAAA, AYB....   

       That still screws up the zero...   

       ...ZZX, ZZY, ZZZ, A000, A00A...   

       so I guess it'd really be base 27
kevinthenerd, Jun 10 2008


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