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The IndustrialNormal Exponent VOL. 3 ABERDEEN, S. D., NOVEMBER, 1904 No. 2 Something About Notation Systems Elizabeth F. Clary Nearly all systems, both ancient and modern, are based upon a scale of five, ten or twenty. The reasons for this are that nearly all races of people have learned to count on the fingers of one hand, or both hands, or of both hands and the toes. It is thought that these three systems are based upon the human anatomy. The quinary system, which has five for its radix or base, the decimal which has ten and the vigesimal which has twenty, are all based upon the human anatomy. The ancient Babylonians used the sexigesimal notation which has sixty for its radix. This notation gives us our units of time and of circular measures and is not based upon the human anatomy. There is much objection today to the method which allows the children to use their fingers to assist them in their number work, but the fingers are the most convenient and the most natural material they have. If the primitive people had not counted this way we would not be using today the decimal notation. Had we one more finger on each hand we might now be using the duodecimal notation in our schools and in our every day affairs, instead of the decimal. The quodecimal notation would have been much better, too, in some respects, for twelve has for its factors two, three, four and six, and these factors in turn give rise to the fractions onehalf, onethird, onefourth and onesixth, while the decimal notation has two factors, two and five, and the fractions onehalf and onefifth. We use the factors and fractions of the quodecimal system very often. Charles XII of Sweden tried to bring into use the duodecimal notation. He saw the advantages in its use, but he died without accomplishing his aim. Since then no one has attempted to make such a change, and now that the decimal notation has become so firmly established it will more than likely continue in use. The use of the fingers has not only given us the quinary and decimal notations but also the pantomime notation which has been used by the eastern traders, and in all times it has been used by deaf and dumb persons. Many people of the east used the finger signs, during ancient and medieval times, while the Arab trader knew by the touch of another's hands the price of the article to be bought or sold. Primitive people are unable to use large numbers, some can use as high as ten but there are others that cannot use higher than four, and all the numbers higher than four they express by using the words heap and plenty. One system verges into that
Object Description
Rating  
Title  The Exponent, 19041101 
Subject  Northern State UniversityPeriodicals; Northern State UniversityStudentsNewspapers; College Newspapers; Northern State College  Periodicals 
Description  Periodical, college newspaper 
Publisher  Northern State University 
Date of creation  19041101 
Collection  NSU History Collection 
Type  Text 
Identifier  exp19041101 
Rights  ©Beulah Williams Library Archives and Special Collections 
Date Digital  2013/03/27 
Language  English 
Description
Title  Page 1 
Transcription  The IndustrialNormal Exponent VOL. 3 ABERDEEN, S. D., NOVEMBER, 1904 No. 2 Something About Notation Systems Elizabeth F. Clary Nearly all systems, both ancient and modern, are based upon a scale of five, ten or twenty. The reasons for this are that nearly all races of people have learned to count on the fingers of one hand, or both hands, or of both hands and the toes. It is thought that these three systems are based upon the human anatomy. The quinary system, which has five for its radix or base, the decimal which has ten and the vigesimal which has twenty, are all based upon the human anatomy. The ancient Babylonians used the sexigesimal notation which has sixty for its radix. This notation gives us our units of time and of circular measures and is not based upon the human anatomy. There is much objection today to the method which allows the children to use their fingers to assist them in their number work, but the fingers are the most convenient and the most natural material they have. If the primitive people had not counted this way we would not be using today the decimal notation. Had we one more finger on each hand we might now be using the duodecimal notation in our schools and in our every day affairs, instead of the decimal. The quodecimal notation would have been much better, too, in some respects, for twelve has for its factors two, three, four and six, and these factors in turn give rise to the fractions onehalf, onethird, onefourth and onesixth, while the decimal notation has two factors, two and five, and the fractions onehalf and onefifth. We use the factors and fractions of the quodecimal system very often. Charles XII of Sweden tried to bring into use the duodecimal notation. He saw the advantages in its use, but he died without accomplishing his aim. Since then no one has attempted to make such a change, and now that the decimal notation has become so firmly established it will more than likely continue in use. The use of the fingers has not only given us the quinary and decimal notations but also the pantomime notation which has been used by the eastern traders, and in all times it has been used by deaf and dumb persons. Many people of the east used the finger signs, during ancient and medieval times, while the Arab trader knew by the touch of another's hands the price of the article to be bought or sold. Primitive people are unable to use large numbers, some can use as high as ten but there are others that cannot use higher than four, and all the numbers higher than four they express by using the words heap and plenty. One system verges into that 
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