Geography Reference

In-Depth Information

Table 5.1. The decimal system invented by the Salesian missionaries for the Xavante in the

1960s, using traditional Xavante numbers from 1 to 6.

Numeral

Name in Xavante

1

mitsi
(alone, on its own)

2

maparané
(the two of us together)

3

tsi'umdatõ
(
tsi
, alone, implying it is an odd number)

4

maparané
tsiuiwanã
(2 groups of 2)

5

imrotõ
(
imro
,
partner;
tõ
without)

6

imropö
(
imro
partner;
pö
with)

7

wede
(
wede
stick, tree)

8

tomai'ã da'rã
(
tomai'ã
small dot, on
da'rã
one's head)

9

tomai'ã wedena
(small dot, with a
wedena
stick falling from it)

10

mitsi tomai'ã
(
mitsi
1,
tomai'ã
small dot)

11

mitsi mitsi
(1, 1)

12

mitsi maparané
(
maparané
2), etc.

20

maparané tomai'ã
(2, small dot)

21

maparané mitsi
(2,1), etc.

30

tsiumdatõ
tomai'ã
(3, small dot), etc.

40

maparané tsiuiwanã tomai'ã
(4, small dot), etc.

100

mitsi tomai'ã dzaihu
(1, small dot,
dzahu
twice)

101

mitsi tomai'ã mitsi
(1, small dot, 1), etc.

200

maparané tomai'ã dzaihu
(2, small dot, twice), etc.

1000

mitsi tomai'ã dzahu duré
(1, small dot, twice,
duré
more), etc.

Lino Tsere'a, a 15-year-old Xavante student, seemed puzzled. He could not tell

me whether 900 was higher than 185. Lino read 185 in the following way:

1 -
mitsi
(lonely self)

8 -
tomai'ã da'rã i (tomai'a
small dot; on
da'rã
one's head)

5 -
imrotõ
(without a mate).

Lino read 900 as follows:

9 -
tomai'ã wedena
(
tomai'a
small dot; [with a]
wedena
stick falling from it)

0 -
tomai'ã

0 -
tomai'ã
.