Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Heavens, how long has it been since I gave Candy readers a really delicious word to chomp on? Too long, says I. Dactylonomy (think "pterodactyl" with out the "ptero") is the science of counting on your fingers. That's right, I said science. Nice try, haters, who think I am just bad at simple math.

If you think I'm just trying to get off not admitting that I never remember the sum of 7 and 3 with looking at my, um, dactyls, then you should read this explanation of the art of dactlonomy from World Wide Words, which notes the historical significance of the art based on descriptions of methods from the Middle East, Asia and other places (and by the Venerable Bede from the north-east of England in the eighth century AD if you must know). Paintings exist from more than four thousand years ago showing Egyptians finger counting and we know it was common in classical Greece and Rome so it can't be too good for you.

The word is from Greek "daktulos" meaning "finger", plus "-nomia" which is related to nomos, "law", that we use to mark some specified area of knowledge. Which leads me to a very similar, but little recognized science that I just made up, "Grammenomy", from Greek "gramme" meaning the stroke or line of a pen or mathematical figure, plus "-nomia", well you know the rest. It's the science (or art if you have it) of counting on the brush strokes of mathematical figures. Here's the system I devised in the third grade, mostly to keep my fingers out of the eyes of datylonomy bigots (haters).

Now, the next time someone gives you the evil eyeball for counting on you fingers, just turn up your nose and say, "I'm a dactylonomist, actually. It's very difficult to be a good one."

0 sugar rushes:

Post a Comment