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dozenal thinking Options
Posted: Monday, December 12, 2016 11:33:40 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/30/2012
Posts: 878
Neurons: 467,481
Location: Bucharest, Bucuresti, Romania
Hi, all!

If you wanted to estimate the number of items in a group, after taking a glance at them:

* When there are about 10-12 items, would you say 10 or a dozen? (or even 12?) What number comes first to your mind, 10 or 12?
* When there are 5-6 items, would you rather say 5 or half a dozen? (or 6?)
* When you want to overstate a number – would you say 10 or a dozen? ("You've already eaten 10 / a dozen cookies" when that person only had 3 or 4)

Seems to me like 10 or 5 would be much simpler – only 1 syllable and more straightforward!

I understand the duodecimal system, its origins and its advantages (more factors). I know that some people would like the entire world to switch to the dozenal system because it's more natural, it makes more sense and it's easier to use. I wonder if it's not already too late for this. Some teach their kids how to say the time of day, the date, the year and other things in the dozenal system. (And by the way, apparently "2016 is the beginning of a new century - if you count in twelves. If you do that then the year 2016 becomes the year 1200".) I find all this fascinating. But I wanna understand why it is used so naturally by many in a world where the decimal system currently prevails.

Is it used mostly for tangible objects? Haven't really heard: a dozen years, months… or a dozen inches. Definitely not for money (decimal currency).

What about with "times"? I've told you a dozen times? 10/12 times?

For large quantities – would you say "dozens of" or "tens of"? Dozens would come more naturally to native speakers, I think. Isn't that harder to multiply? I mean, if you say tens – you have 20 or 30 or 40 or x0. With dozens, it means you have 24 or 36 or 48 or… Think I realize it doesn’t have to be this precise (even with tens you could be talking about 35, let's say). And I know that "dozen" or "dozens of something" can informally mean "a lot of something".

Someone said here: "In English, one would normally say "dozens of" rather than "tens of", so there is some overlap. I might use "dozens of" for an amount between 36 (a dozen, two dozen, dozens...) and 132 (a dozen less than a gross), "scores of" for a number between 40 and 199, and "hundreds of" for values greater than that. I don't think I've ever thought about the reasoning behind this; it would really depend on which number sounded better in the areas which overlap."

To those of you who use "dozen", is it because that's the way you were taught or the way you've always heard it?

Is this mostly an American thing or far from it?

Does it have anything to do with the fact that many things are sold by the dozen (and they're cheaper that way Whistle)? (eggs, doughnuts…)

Or do you simply feel it sounds better?

Doesn't it clash in your brain with the fact that virtually everything else is in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands…?

Of course, you don't have to answer all of these questions! About 10 or 12 of them will do :P


extra fun stuff:

A baker's half dozen is 7 and half a baker's dozen is 6.5.

"A dozen, a gross, and a score,
plus three times the square root of four,
divided by seven,
plus five times eleven,
is nine squared and not a bit more."
---Jon Saxton (math textbook author)

The dozenal clock (I really, really like it):

[image not available]

this is also cool:
“Little Twelve Toes” from Schoolhouse Rock

and a seasonal one:
Straight No Chaser - The 12 Days of Christmas

Posted: Monday, December 12, 2016 12:13:54 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,403
Neurons: 227,927
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
The oldest systems of organised maths did not use the decimal system.

Sixties, dozens, three-hundred and sixty, ninety, three, and so on.
360 degrees for a circle, 60 degrees for an equilateral triangle, 90 for a right angle, 30 for a comfortable wedge.
These seem a lot more natural for counting.
100 degrees in a circle, 16.66666666666 for an equilateral triangle, 25 for a right angle, 8.333333333 for a wedge - not easy to think with.

If you have a crowd milling around, it's easier to count them in threes than in tens or fives.

The decimal system was enforced by a politician who obviously didn't know anything more than "Der, how many fingers do I have? d'oh! "
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