Originally posted by Kewpie
Ever noticed that the "teens" only start after two irregularly-named ones - 11 and 12? And the same applies in German. Were the ancients counting to a base 12?
Not really. In French, for example, "onze" is just as (ir-)regular as "seize", and it's "dix-sept" where it changes.
evidence for many languages starting out with words for "one", "two", and "many", with "three" and higher coming later, but how far that went is not quite clear. It's quite possible that leftovers from that period made themselves felt when "eleven" and "twelve" came to form. There is also evidence for the first predecessors to scientists measuring
in twelves (hence the division of the day in hours, and the circle in degrees), but that's mainly because it's so nicely divisible.