Ten is, as I may have mentioned a month ago, the number of fingers were have on both hands and therefore the base we use for our number system.
The Islanders of the Torres Strait in the South Pacific, however, at least until the 19th century, were more ambitious, counting from 1 to 5 on the fingers of one hand, then enlisting wrist, elbow, shoulder, chest, other shoulder, other elbow, other wrist to go from 6 to 12. The fingers of the other hand took them to 17, and toes, ankles and hips were brought in for numbers from 18 to 33.
In the language of the Zui Indians, the word for ten was s-tem-'thla, meaning "all of the fingers", and eleven was s-tem-'thla-to-pa-y'thi-to-na, or "all of the fingers and one more held up". The German for ten, zehn, may be derived from zwei Hnde - two hands.
However the Venerable Bede (who died in 735) explained in a treatise on "The Art of Finger-Reckoning" how you can count up to 9,000 on the fingers of two hands.
Adopting a new format again this week, we turn to anagrams. It has often struck us as curious that GORMAN WHIPLESS is an anagram of GIRL MP WHO'S SANE. But what are the following?
The answer in each case is a surname followed by a word (or in one case two words) that might have appeared close to that name in a recent news headline.
We have three copies of Chambers Anagrams and Chambers Words for the best disentanglings.
You may find the expressions themselves serve as clues, in varying degrees, to the names involved.
LA! RASH MANAGER
LOVE-BIRD WRECKS OPERA
LABOUR CURE FAILS
ANTI-EC, SO CRUEL TO PM
Solutions should be sent, to arrive by 22 March, to: Pastimes, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.
Competition report, 24 February
Answers: 2 is Company (Three's a Crowd); 10 Green Bottles Hanging on the Wall; 10 Pounds a Gallon of Water Weighs; 12 Edges on a Cube; 41 Number of Mozart's Last Symphony. Prizes to: John Osmond (London), Irene Greatorex (Staines), Phil Brown (Bristol).Reuse content