Additional Math Pages & Resources

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Is Math really a language?

Some languages are better than others when it comes to discussing certain concepts.

If I want to talk about land animals, such as the American Bison (buffalo) I might be able to use the Lakota language, from the Sioux tribes. If I chose instead to focus on discussing salmon and their journeys to the sea and back, I'd be able to use Salishan, from the tribes along the Pacific Northwest coast. Gaelic might work too, as Scotland = salmon (and golf).

Any of these would be more useful than Pama-Nyungan, an Aboriginal family of languages from Australia, where neither buffalo nor salmon were common.

Now back to math. Because there are millions of homes at risk of foreclosure right now, any discussion of their value will involve specialized math terms used in economics and accounting and probability.

But if I am marketing this real estate, I might be interested in expressing the square footage of the homes, the acreage of the lots, etc. Geometry would be the "language" I'd use.

If language is a system for encoding and decoding information so it can be shared, then math indeed can be a language. A language of counting, measurement, shapes and calculation. A language with precise definitions and specialized terms.

As I live only a few miles from the Mexican border, I sometimes need to speak a bit of Spanish. Even if it's only used in short sentences now and then, it's extremely helpful to be bi-lingual. Otherwise you are always wondering "what am I eating?" and "where's the nearest restroom?"

So it is with math.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Type your comment here