GP Guide to the decimal system

This section is written by me, George, in order to help guinea pigs everywhere understand the human/slave counting system.  I have taken the ideas from Professor Eucarat’s book written in an unimaginable time but handed down from cavy to cavy at the University of SeaPigs.

Chapter 1: the numbers and why they are different.

What you have to understand is that a guineapig counts like this:

unk, nunk, thwa, fwaw,

wyk, hyk, unky-naw

If you write this in numerals like Professor Eucarat did, these are the same as human numerals:


5,6, 10

That’s because we count the toes on one front paw, then the same side back paw.

then if we go to the other side it goes unky-unk, unky-nunk, unky-thwa, unky-fwaw, unky-wyk, unky-hyk, nunky-naw.  which is 11,12,13,14,15,16,20.

Now for cavies that have been to school or been taught their numbers by wise old piggies, it is easy to do their sums, as unk plus nunk  is obviously thwa, and unky-nunk minus hyk is thwa, and so on through the multiplication and division.  (1+2=3, 12-6=3).

The trouble with humans is they have more toes than us, and they call them fingers and thumbs, but that isn’t really relevant.  They have five on each hand and foot.  So they count on their toes either on one side or both front then both back feet and they say ‘one, two, three, four, five’ for one hand, then ‘six, seven, eight, nine, ten’ for the other.

They write this as 1,2,3,4,5,  6,7,8,9,10

So you see they have thwa characters that arent like ours – 7,8 and 9 which they call theven, ate and nyn, which are written as seven, eight and nine.  You can count these most easily if you count out one front paw and both back paws, which would normally be unky-unk, unky-nunk and unky-thwa.

Professor Eucarat explains that this is called a decimal system, using the Roman term Deca, meaning 10, whereas ours is the heptimal system using the word Hepta for 10, although it means 7 in the decimal system.

Is this confusing?  Well, imagine if a human only counted on one hand.  They would count 1,2,3,4,10.  They wouldnt know about 5 and 6.  So in order to count like a human you have to learn to say theven, ate and nyn before you get to unky-naw.  And you have to remember what they look like: theven is a sort of arrow 7; ate is a circle that’s been twisted 8; and nyn is an upside down hyk 9.


Fill in the gaps in this counting game

(in nunks) nunk, fwaw, —–, ate,  ——

(in nunks again) 1,3,——, 7, ——, 11,——-

Its easier to do it in numbers at the present.  You can call 13 unky-thwa if you like, but in human it is said thirteen.  I think we will have to stick to using the numerals to do addition and subtraction.

Try this one:

100, 101, —-, 103, 104, —–, —–, 107, ——, 109, 110, ——, 112, 113, —–,—–,—–,—–,118,—–, 120

You see, it’s not so difficult once you get used to these extra symbols and names, is it?

Next section: adding up


(in nunks) nunk, fwaw, hyk , ate,  unky-naw

(in nunks again) 1,3, 5,  7, 9, 11, 13

100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117,118, 119, 120

4 thoughts on “GP Guide to the decimal system

  1. PennyTuppence

    I should try this out on my class – they would love to learn guinea pig maths (better than human multiplication and division!)

    Thanks for the explanation! 🙂


  2. Dawn

    Oh dear, G. This reminds me of when I had to learn that base 7 (or base 6, base 8, base 9, etc.) business in school. It was all so confusing and I never understood the point.

    I suppose it was my limited viewpoint. I didn’t realize that other species would have different needs. Will you forgive your auntie for her shortsightedness and arrogance? I was being speciesist.


  3. Meg

    Thank you so much George – It makes so much more sense now, I now know what the quad are talking about. I think they are making strange noises when their tea arrives, but instead, they’re counting and sharing around their carrots – You learn something new every day, eh!


  4. Pixsnapper

    I am laughing so loud…..George might even be able to hear me !
    That is too cute ! Why not write books for kids ?
    They would love to hear your tales.



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