Tuesday, April 21, 2009

how brain processes fractions, english loan words from other euro langs


FRACTIONS may be written as the ratio of two whole numbers, but that's not how our brains process them. Instead it seems we respond to fractions directly, without processing whole numbers along the way. This suggests that kids, who often dread fractions, could be taught them more intuitively.

Crucially, control experiments showed that the volunteers weren't responding first to whole numbers, and then calculating the ratio, but were reacting to the fraction itself

Fractions tend to be taught as ratios of whole numbers, but Nieder says this may not tap our neural machinery in the most constructive way, making fractions harder to grasp than they need to be.

D: this seems to refute part of an earlier blog entry by me on the book, "The Outliers". Asian number naming conventions still make more efficient use of working memory though, and perhaps that is where any derivative benefits to fractions come from.

D: It would seem the awkward and opaque English fraction naming conventions may not be such a hindrance after all.
E.g. half, third, quarter...
I'll certainly make not of this in Decimese.
A preposition or prefix for fraction seems chronologically important.


D: oddly, javascript needs to be enabled to read the entire article.

The loanwords which appear in English — such as ‘husband’ — suggest that the invaders quickly integrated with their new culture. The English language soon adopted day-to-day terms, suggesting that the cultures lived side-by-side and were soon on intimate terms. This is in marked contrast to French loanwords. Though there are many more of these terms present in the standard English language — around 1,000 Scandinavian to more than 10,000 French — they tend to refer to high culture, law, government and hunting. French continued to be the language of the Royal Court for centuries after the invasion in 1066.

Another clear indicator of this is the type of loanwords seen in English. The majority of loanwords tend to nouns, words and adjectives, open-ended categories which are easily adapted into a language. But one of the most commonly-seen loanwords in English today is ‘they’ — a pronoun with its origins in Old Norse. Pronouns are a closed category, far more difficult to adapt into a new language, which again indicates a closeness between the two languages and cultures not present in previous or subsequent invading forces.

D: introducing a pronoun is rare and impressive.
Notably, syntax is highly resistant.
Adding a new brick is easy, but changing the mortar mix is not.
The idea of increasing the power of the function words such as pronouns that intrigued me most. Standard vocabulary for Decimese will be left to open-source 'decision by committee'.
Again, "closed class" words are NOT the core vocabulary - they are secondary in Decimese and derived from MELTS - math, ethics, logic, time/space concepts.

Joseph Campbell spoke of the importance of being at peace and in harmony with one's universe, as well as one's society and whatnot. Perhaps a language that is itself in harmony with the universe and its physics can aid in this.

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