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I'm not a guitar player, but I'd understood that the left thumb was often used for classical pieces, particularly Spanish ones. Spanish classical pieces, that is, not necessarily Spanish left thumbs.

Not to my knowledge. From an interview with Jose Feliciano:
At first I had to teach myself, because there was nobody to learn from. I listened to the radio; I listened to records and guitar players who would come around my house and play I'd listen to them, and I'd learn from them. Even though I played the right chords and everything, my lefthand fingering was bad for the first ten years; it really was. Like, I used to wrap the left thumb around the neck to hit a bass note you know, I'd play the right notes but use the wrong finger positions.

My classical teacher got me away from that, and it was a good thing. But everybody has to play the way that they know best. Whatever is good for them if it works, then it's the right thing to do. So a classical teacher straightened me out when I was about 15 years old. I took classical for about three years, until I was 18.
... Chet (Atkins) used his thumb.. I remember seeing Chet on TV years ago on a talk show. He was playing a classical. They requested something and he said, " I have to use my left thumb on that and every time I do Segovia gets mad".

On the other hand, there's

This guitar four strings off the fingerboard that are apparently are meant to be plucked with the left thumb (as well as seven strings on the fingerboard). It looks like a sort of combination of a classical guitar and (bass) harp.

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And, of course, if you do it in binary, you can count to 1,024 on your fingers.

2047 (unsigned!), but who's counting?

Just how many fingers do you have?
I actually count this way (usually tapping against a surface or my leg, up for zero, down for one) if I need to count many things or if the items to be counted come quickly. Once you get in a rhythm, you can count without thinking about it and just read the answer off your fingers when you're done. You can also easily restart the count from any number.

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In fact, I believe there are a number of languages where, in normal speech, elbow and knee are not distinguished ... out in the part I snipped, most Slavonic languages do not distinguish between arm & hand or leg & foot.

English, too, in some dialects. I had a linguistics professor who was born in Guyana whose "foot" went all the way up to his hip. I think he distinguished arms and hands, though.

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Where's that used?

In Germany at least. I learnt and teach it like that, don't know if there are other abbreviations common in between.
I learned "p" (thumb), "i" (index), "m" (middle), "a" (ring).

There's one missing. :-)

Hm. When it comes to fingerpicking styles (Maple Leaf Rag and the like), the thumb has almost the same role like the others. No longer mere basso continuo.
I was taking folk guitar when I bought a classical guitar(1) and brought it to class. The teacher hit us ... string. In a prior course, the (different) instructor had actually recommended that as an alternative on a couple of chords.

Pollex horribilis. Many beginners play G major throttling the poor guitar neck. This is a clear no-no for classical players.
"Fingering" for the piano inevitably includes thumbs, but when I ... finger. Nowadays the symbols are 1-2-3-4-5 starting with the thumb.

When was that? It was 1-5 when I started taking piano some 35 years ago, and I'm pretty sure it was 1-5 on the music my dad learned on when *he* was a kid. I don't think I've ever seen "+" and 1-4.

Same here. Very interesting!
(1) Whoever decided that human fingers were designed to press down on the edge of metal wires was obviously a sadist. Even when just playing chords or blues improvisation, I find I prefer to use the nylon-string classical guitar.

I still can't decide. Sometimes I want to play "Greensleeves" or some Debussy/Ravel which sounds strange on metal strings, sometimes it has to be things like ELP's "Sage" or the good old "Dust in the wind" that must be done on metal. And sometimes I take my 12-string which wouldn't accept anything else. ;-)
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I have some very old piano sheet music in my ... for the thumb. This is stuff fromthe 1920s or earlier.

That was the older English system, and I believe it was already startingto fall out of use a hundred years ... before the piano was invented, so British pianists had to learn both systems in order to use music published elsewhere.

There's an entry for "fingering" in the old Percy Scholes "Oxford Companion to Music" (1938), in which he refers to "the almost total abandonment of the so-called 'English' fingering" ( i.e. the + system) brought about by the use by British pianists of printed music from both German and British publishers. It appears that the oldest English system (1599) was 1-5, and that the + system was copied from Germany from about 1760 onwards - whereupon the German publishers decided to adopt the 1-5 system . . .

Scholes adds: "... an illogicality now exists ... from the point of view of the pianist who is also a player of some stringed instrument". True, but I've never heard anyone comment or complain about it.

Areff's 1920s sheet music would of course use the 1-5 system if printed in the US or Germany. AmE musical terminology (e.g. the names of note-lengths) is often German-style. Another little Pondian difference: Areff "started taking piano", I "started to learn the piano" (or "having piano lessons"), though much more than 35 years ago, alas.
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In fact, I believe there are a number of languages where, in normal speech, elbow and knee are not distinguished

...and that's why I mentioned the two Emotion: smile
- in fact, some where a word meaning something like 'joint' is used for elbow, knee, ankle and wrist. Then, as you point out in the part I snipped, most Slavonic languages do not distinguish between arm & hand or leg & foot.

Well, in mine it is again the subset business: your arm is considered a part of your hand, your foot is a part of your leg.

dorota guttfeld
It would depend, but more toward your first possibility than the second. It's not a critical or very confusing mistake ... Child: I hurt my finger! Adult: Which one? Let me see. Child extends thumb. Adult: Oh, your thumb, yes. (Etc.)

So, for such daily purposes "finger" is not really perfect, but roughly acceptable?
(thanks for all the examples I've snippend)
Quite possibly. Is there any tradition of people saying fiercely to each other that they shouldn't* use "reka" to mean ... stupid or from the wrong province or something? Probably you mean there is often confusion over which one *is meant.

You're right: we don't usually have nation-wide quarrels about it, and if you need to be specific, well, you just ask for specific lexical items.
Well, the problems over this are not as big and important as you might have been led to expect. The ... how many fingers do you have on one hand? A: Four. Calling a thumb a finger doesn't make it one.

That's precisely what was hoping for! In the meantime I found another one, tell me if it sound familiar:
Q: When is a finger not a finger?
A: When it's a thumb.
dorota guttfeld
If I wanted to learn what the linguists have to say about this, I'd look under "hypernym" and "hyponym".

Is "finger" a hypernym for "thumb"?

Yes, in its unmarked sense, "finger" is a hypernym for "thumb". In its marked sense, "finger" refers to a "non-thumb" ... "thumb") for unmarked "finger". Since "finger" can serve as its own hyponym, one could call it an "autohyponym". (Confusing enough?)

On the contrary, now it's clear!
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When was that? It was 1-5 when I started taking ... kid. I don't think I've ever seen "+" and 1-4

Same here. Very interesting!

And here. 1-5 system, perhaps adopted from Germany.

dorota guttfeld
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