chapter  1
9 Pages

Counting

WithMalcolm E Lines

From prehistoric times man has had the need to count. The stone-age hunter or hunting scout would doubtless have found it of great use to be able to give his hunting colleagues some indication of the number of animals he had located, in addition to their kind and approximate location. Although terms such as one, few, and many, may well have sufficed for a while, a more precise counting scheme would be needed eventually, perhaps for bartering, and some concept of number does seem to be possessed by even the most primitive tribes today. Counting, of course, can be performed without the verbal possession of number words. This can be achieved, for example, by placing the objects to be counted in a one-to-one correspondence with fingers, toes, or ‘counting stones’, but words for the most commonly occurring numbers (usually the smallest) are obviously convenient, and seem to have developed at quite an early stage in all forms of human society.