'Four score and seven years ago': learning the Danish counting system
I came across this on a friend’s Facebook wall – and laughed (mind you, the Danish one is not completely correct).
When I started learning Danish, I could not figure out the counting system at all! But then two things happened:
I asked my husband about it – turns out he’s one of the few Danes I know, who can actually explain the Danish counting system and knows the full names of all the numbers – cos it ain’t just syvoghalvfems (7 and half fifth); it’s syvoghalvfemsindstyvende (7 and half-fifth-times-twenty)!
And secondly, I was doing an English lesson, ironically enough, about the English language, and I was using the Gettysburg address: ‘Four score and seven years ago’ – a light bulb moment: English had a similar vigesimal system of counting based on twenty, but it changed to a 10-based (decimal) system.
Interestingly, though Danish never officially changed to a decimal system – it has a decimal system, which it uses for some banking transactions: femti (50), seksti (60), syvti (70), otti (80), niti (90). This system is almost identical to the Swedish and Norwegian counting systems.
By the way, the full numbers are: