Counting to Ten

We’re sitting around the dinner table discussing what happened at school today and it leads us to the subject of counting to ten.

Realizing everyone in the family can count to ten in a language unique to them at this moment in their life, we go around the table to do it (youngest to oldest).

We start with our three year old, who does it in English as that’s the language he’s currently working on (his pronunciations in parenthesis).

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three (tree)
  4. Four
  5. Five (pive)
  6. Six
  7. Seven (seben)
  8. Eight
  9. Nine
  10. Ten (den)

Next comes our 6y/o who just started his first year of Chinese immersion, so he does it in Chinese (I have no idea if it’s right, but it sounds amazing):

  1. 一 (Yī)
  2. 二 (Èr)
  3. 三 (Sān)
  4. 四 (Sì)
  5. 五 (Wǔ)
  6. 六 (Liù)
  7. 七 (Qī)
  8. 八 (Bā)
  9. 九 (Jiǔ)
  10. 十 (Shí)

Then comes our 8y/o who is not enrolled in any foreign language immersion class but has picked up Spanish from me somewhere along the way.

  1. Uno
  2. Dos
  3. Tres
  4. Cuatro
  5. Cinco
  6. Seis
  7. Siete
  8. Ocho
  9. Nueve
  10. Diez

After that comes my wife who — with a little help from the internet to jog her memory — counts to ten in Cebuano (a language she learned in the Philippines).

  1. Usa
  2. Duha
  3. Tulo
  4. Upat
  5. Lima
  6. Unom
  7. Pito
  8. Walo
  9. Nwebe
  10. Napulo

Last it comes to me. Spanish is the only foreign language I know and my 8y/o has already stolen it from me. I’m not sure what to do. I demur. “What’s a language unique to me?” Then inspiration hits 💡 — I count to ten in computer, i.e. binary.

  1. 0
  2. 1
  3. 10
  4. 11
  5. 100
  6. 101
  7. 110
  8. 111
  9. 1000
  10. 1001

I may have made a mistake here or there (it’s hard to shift the positions of the ones and zeros around in your head while keeping track of what number you’re on) but they don’t know the difference, so I end up looking just as smart and unique as the rest of my family.

Update 2023-08-24

Wyatt Marks emailed me to note my “off-by-one” error. I counted to ten in binary in front of my family by starting at zero (which is actually zero, not one). They didn’t know the difference, but clearly I misrepresented our profession by doing so — or maybe I represented it perfectly making an off-by-one error.

Anyhow, here’s the proper list:

  1. 1
  2. 10
  3. 11
  4. 100
  5. 101
  6. 110
  7. 111
  8. 1000
  9. 1001
  10. 1010