Chapter 1: Language

Most of our languages do not foster the beauty of the patterns in number: ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen break the repetitive pattern and cause American children to fall behind Chinese children in their ability to count. 

This is in part due to Asian languages using simple ten, ten-one, ten-two, ten-three number names. They only use ten counting words in all to reach 99, whereas American children, and many other western languages, must learn a total of 27 new vocabulary to get to 99. 

These activities display the words used for number in eight languages. 

Recent research finds that speaking Mandarin, compared to speaking English, leads to 56% more young children being able to count to 100 (Miller, Kelly, & Zhou, 2005). 

Though the key difference occurred for the numbers eleven through 20, the fact remains that infants can differentiate syllables and this knowledge should be put to good use (Bijeljac-BabicBertoncini, & Mehler, 1993). 

It is our hope that the use of -ro (roh) for zero and -ven (ven) for seven will decrease the linguistic burden when dealing with numbers. Apparently, every syllable has its cost.

The impact of reusing the words for the single digits has incredible value; when 85% of Chinese students can identify 20 objects, only 45% of U.S. students can do likewise (Miller, Smith, Zhu, & Zhang, 1995). This is attributed solely to the language differences. Our work removes this liability.

    Our suggestion for elementary students is to introduce a specific counting language in addition to our conversational speech that would enhance number comprehension. 

Since humans can quickly recognize the number of syllables, each digit should only be one syllable. If you were to hear a number spoken and it had four syllables then it would be a four-digit number. 

Instead, we currently have a four-syllable word in 27 and yet it is smaller than many two-syllable numbers like 90.

Examining a calculator, phone, remote, or keypad of any kind you will notice that there are only ten digits used to represent the numbers, 0 through 9.