News From the Field
Words Help People Form Mathematical Concepts
February 7, 2011
Language may play an important role in learning the meanings of numbers. A study of deaf people in Nicaragua who never learned formal sign language showed that people who communicate using self-developed gestures, called homesigns, were unable to comprehend the value of numbers greater than three because they had not learned a language containing symbols for counting. By contrast, deaf people who acquire conventional sign language as children can learn the meaning of large numbers.
University of Chicago
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