# Why are people counted by dozens

## How did the name for the numbers 11 and 12 come about?

People have always counted and divided quantities into a manageable order. Shepherds z. B. remembered how many sheep grazed in the meadow by carving notches in their staff. To make it easier to count the notches, the shepherd grouped his herd animals into groups of five. A mathematician would say that the shepherd had designed a number system with a base of 5. Most people today use a number system with a base of ten, the so-called decimal system. The individual digits of this system are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. After the 9 follows the 10; it is the basis of the system.

So much for counting. In fact, it wouldn't be so absurd to continue counting with one, two, etc. Nevertheless, the terms "eleven" and "twelve" exist. The reason: First of all, both words have an old Germanic origin. In Middle High German it is called "zwelf" or "zwielf" ("elif", "einlif"). People who used to speak Old High German said "zwelif" ("einlif"). So far, so good: Both words are compositions of "one" or "two" and an old form of the verb "remain". That is, "eleven" and "twelve" are numbers that result when you count ten and leave one and two, respectively. The terms "twelve" and "eleven" were really formed from "one" and "two thirteen".

Incidentally, the number "twelve" has another meaning: Before the decimal system prevailed, many old systems of measurement and coinage, popular belief and even astronomy were based on the number twelve, also known under the term "dozen".