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Base 20, from Bruno Ombreux

January 14, 2008 |

It briefly studied Breton, a Celtic language surviving in Brittany, an area in Western France. This language has a base 20 counting system which was already used by the Gauls, the Celtic tribes that were conquered by Julius Caesar.

French inherited this Celtic substrate. Soixante is 3*20. Soixante-dix is 3*20 + 10. Quatre-vingt is 4*20. Quatre-vingt-dix is 4*20 + 10. There is also the "Hospital des Quinze-Vingt," created by King Saint Louis for 300 blind people. Quinze-vingt is 15*20 = 300.

Of course, base 20 is not the most efficient for counting. The most efficient base for counting is 12. Twelve is a low number with many divisors: 2, 3, 4, 6. Twelve is much more efficient for speed counting than something like 10.


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