Count Your Toes

Herewith, the numbers 1-20 in Chuj.  I took a chunk out of my double-period 4º physics class yesterday and had one of the students go up to the board and pretend to be a teacher.  After all, they are in teacher-school, right?

1 jun

2 chab’

3 oxe’

4 chanhe’

5 oye’

6 wake’

7 huke’

8 wajxake’

9 b’alunhe’

10 lajunhe’

11 uxluche’

12 lajchawe’

13 oxlajunhe’

14 chanhlajunhe’

15 olajunhe’

16 waklajunhe’

17 huklajunhe’

18 wajxaklajunhe’

19 b’alunhlajunhe’

20 jun winak

[x] is prounounced [sh], [nh] is prounounced [ng], [w] is more or less like [b], and [ ‘ ] is a glottal stop.

20 is literally, “one man,” supposedly because we have 20 counting appendages: 10 fingers and 10 toes (hence the base 20 of Mayan counting and math).  I guess base 10 people like our European ancestors had stinky feet?  Once you get to 21, it’s the word “one” and then “forty”–you append the word “forty” to 1-19 to show that you’re moving from 21-40…and then when you finally reach 40, you don’t append anything to the word.  So 21, “jun schawinak,” is sort of like, “1 going on 40.”  And you keep going thusly until you get to “19 going on 40,” and then you arrive at your pinky toe.  


1 Comment

Filed under Guatemalan Travels

One response to “Count Your Toes

  1. Koz

    One man….
    one strange education system…
    and the wacky hijinks that happen…
    …when worlds collide.

    C. L. H. Hull XIV is learning to teach and…
    “Teaching to Learn”

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