Counting sheep. That's what I do many a wee small hour now that I no longer sleep as soundly as I once did.
But my one, two, three is a long way distant from the manner of counting sheep in past times, and it varied from area to area. In Wiltshire, for instance, and probably other parts of Wessex, the following was used:
1 ain 2 tain 3 tethera 4 methera 5 mimp 6 ayta 7 slayta 8 laura 9 dora 10 dik 11 ain-a-dik 12 tain-a-dik 13 tethera-dik 14 methera-dik 15 mit 16 ain-a-mit 17 tain-a-mit 18 tethera-mit 19 gethera-mit 20 ghet.
In our local Museum here in Carmarthen, I know that in their wonderful attic stockrooms there are tally sticks which had notches for counting. The Shire book on Shepherding Tools and Customs I am referring to for the counting methods, suggests that counting by voice went up to 39, and then a notch would be cut in the tally stick and the counting started again. In Ceredigion (Cardiganshire to those outside of Wales) a slightly different tallying method was used, where there was differentiation between lambs, wethers, rams and overall head of sheep.
Here in Wales, we used: un, dua, tri, pedwar, pum, chwe, saith, wyth, naw, dig, warddy, dueddy, triardy, peswarddy, peinthaddy, waythaddy, saythaddy, sythaddy, nowjaddy and ugain.
In the Scottish borders it was: yan, tyan, tethera, methera, pimp, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dik, yanadik, tyanadick, tethera-dik, methera-dik, bumfitt, yana-bumfitt, tyana-bumfitt, tethera-bumfitt, methera-bumfitt and giggot.
In Cornwall it was: on, dow, tray, pajy, pemp, wayth, sayth, ayth, now, daye, ignak, dowthak, traythak, peswarthat, pienthak, waythak, saythak, sythak, owjak and uggans.
This link will take you to a Cornish language page, where you get some idea of the pronunciation.
As you can see, there are several words which are similar in each counting, especially the word for 5 - being pimp, pemp, pum, and mimp. One also has similar roots: on, yan, un and ain. Three also has similarities in tray, tethera, tri, and tethera again. Apart from the Welsh dig and the Scottish dik (10) and the Welsh and Cornish words for 20 - ugain and uggans, the words used for ten, fifteen and twenty are totally distinct - my favourite is bumfitt! My eldest daughter can read Cornish almost as well as she reads Welsh as she says the languages are so similar.