In my preliminary notes for the latest conlang (which are all swirly and written around drawings and corners, and which aren’t very much actual help) I had written that gesturing would be an important part of the language. Because really, who wants to get sand in their mouth every time they want to communicate?
Today, the first step towards non-verbal communication occurred.
I was on the train, trying to work out a few more basic words. Writing on a train generally leads to loveliness in my experience*, and I was not disappointed today.
[Warning: if you are averse to fairly drawn out, play-by-play descriptions of things that really aren’t important, you might want to skip to the end to see if it’s worth your time, and check out my postscript with its self-promotion.]
The loveliness happened when I was working out the numbers. ‘Must there really be ten?’ I thought to myself. ‘Well, I guess ten base numbers make sense – that’s what everyone does, because we have ten fingers, and ten toes. But still… maybe twenty base numbers?’ The thought horrified me. How could I manage twenty originalish sounding numbers when I couldn’t get past number two?
And then the beauteous thought: but really, we only have eight fingers. The other two are thumbs.
You see where this is going. So now I have a counting system that works through multiples of eight. As I had already written 9 and 10 down in my notebook, I decided to figure them out, too. Eight plus one, eight plus two. Simple. And so boring. Well, why not let those thumbs be useful? Give ’em names, add them onto the numbers: it’ll be fine.
So now thumbs have names. What names? !!! kh and ch**, respectively! kh is the first person pronoun (also used to mark reflexive verbs). ch, as the marker for transitive verbs has a fighting chance at being a third person pronoun, and so a fighting chance for being the name of thumb number two. With these thumbs, one can signify oneself or another. Want to join in something but can’t be bothered to say so? Just raise your right thumb. Want to indicate that you are talking about someone without using their name? That’ll be the left thumb.
Okay, no it’s not. It means I will have a measurement system of imperial difficulty to figure out, and I’m sure thumb rules will have to be reviewed (no pun intended. I’m not that clever). But hey, who cares? Not I: I’m having SO much fun
*That is, I like writing on trains, and most of what I write on trains is very short and not an assault on human civilisation. Interested? More can be found here. <– there.
**Or ‘a’ or whatever my third person pronoun ends up being.