Friday, January 30, 2009

as easy as 1-2-3. #s in English are a drag on economy

Author Malcolm Gladwell has a history of thought-provoking insight in his previous books,The Tipping Point and Blink. Now he's tackling another fascinating subject: success, in his latest work, Outliers.

D: my roomie mentioned this.

(Chapter one of author's book.)

D: Regarding memorizing a list of numbers.

Take a look at the following list of numbers: 4, 8, 5, 3, 9, 7, 6. Read them out loud. Now look away and spend twenty seconds memorizing that sequence before saying them out loud again. If you speak English, you have about a 50 percent chance of remembering that sequence perfectly. If you're Chinese, though, you're almost certain to get it right every time." The reason behind this, Gladwell writes, is because humans can store digits in a memory loop that last only about two seconds. In Chinese languages, numbers are shorter, allowing Chinese to both speak and remember those numbers in two seconds -- a fraction of the time it takes to remember those numbers in English.

D: regarding counting systems.

Moreover, Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean have a more logical counting system compared to the irregular ways that numerals are spoken in English. As Gladwell writes: Eleven is ten-one (十一 in Chinese), twelve is ten-two (十二) and thirteen is ten-three (十三) and so on.

D: regarding fractions.

Even fractions are easier for Asian children because they are more easily understood and conceptual. For example one-half (fifty percent) is understood as 百分之五十 (bǎi fēn zhī shí) or literally, fifty parts out of 100 parts...

D: this is a common area of improvement for an IAL.

The #s 2-9 are expressed via C1to9+A. I.e. 2 ba, 3 da, 4, cha(or ca), 5 la, 6 ra, 7 tha(or ta), 8 va, and 9 wa.

D: that is from my Deafese first language attempt.

D: I love the saying "as easy as 1 2 3".
Cuz it's NOT.
Witness this.
1 2 3
Spelling: one, two, three
Consonant/vowel: VCV, CCV, CCCVV
Phonetically: wun, tu, TrE

D: that's right. Absolutely no rhyme or reason.

I suppose the number naming convention is the logical corollary of a letter naming convention.
See my very first entry on the huge benefits to the Finnish of a sensible alphabet and spelling system.

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