You think all languages read numbers the same way? You are wrong

Even though this blog isn’t about linguistics, I’m going to talk about this interesting linguistic comparison.

Language is a big part of what our brains process everyday, and when it comes to numbers. Our brains process numbers in a way that depends on our Native Language. However, this process can be altered when we use different language, and actually create some sort of confusion to our brains.

It’s been two years since I have moved to the United States, and started to use English as a primary language; this transition created some problems in the way my brain process numbers.

Arabs who ‘sadly’ use hindi numbers. Say a number that is made of two digits by starting with the ones then the tens, and so forth (i.e خمس و سبعون ‘five and seventy’)

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While in English, and Even Japanese it’s exactly the opposite way Seventy-five.

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Probably Arabs used this approach for reading numbers because it goes in the same direction that the arabs read in (Right to Left)

So now, whenever I want to say a number in Arabic, or English I pause a second to make sure that I’m not mixing numbers up. it’s kind of weird how our brains are wired.

it’s funny because I sometimes I make the mistake in Arabic which is my mother tongue.

Jamal

One Comment Add yours

  1. William Hatungimana says:

    I fully agree but my case can be different. Although we use universal numbers, before I had a good grasp of English I used to solve Mathematical questions while counting in my language because I had a sense of assurance in doing so. Its even more problematic when alternating from one language to another.

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