Title

# Iwanami Science LibraryKotoba to Sansu(Language and Arithmetic - There’s a reason for that mistake)

Size

132 pages, B6 format, softcover

Language

Japanese

Released

July 14, 2022

ISBN

9784000297127

Iwanami Shoten

Book Info

See Book Availability at Library

Japanese Page

view japanese page

I did not write this book with the expectation that it will be a handy guide to university and graduate students to improve the arithmetic and Japanese language skills of the children they teach as tutors and cram schoolteachers. I wrote this book because I wanted to explore the surprising similarities between numbers and words, or their deceptively similar-looking differences, through the lens of my son’s wonderous and exciting answers during the six years of elementary school, as well as other episodes and subjects that people discuss. As I was not good at arithmetic myself, I realized I could write this volume only with the help of my son who is not good (even worse) at arithmetic either, and by using my interests as a psycholinguist. The following are the contents of the volume:

Chapter 1. “What If You Stop Putting Parentheses” … About the hierarchical structures of numbers and words and their commonalities
Chapter 2. “Where to Start Looking?” … From unusual answers in arithmetic to symbols, substance, and deixis, this is about the connections between linguistic expressions and numbers
Chapter 3. “Does an Equilateral Triangle Fall Count as an Isosceles Triangle?” … Pragmatics, reasoning, and bias in language acquisition
Chapter 4. “Try to say 1+1!” … About formulas and natural language word order
Chapter 5. “Were the Number Multiplying and the Number Multiplied the Same?” … A problem that remains inconspicuous in the heated debate of the multiplication order problem, stemming from the ambiguity of the Japanese language
Chapter 6. “Subtracting a Minus… Very minus?” … About linguistic reflexivity
Chapter 7. “By oneself. Finding it out.” … What do children’s miscalculations have in common with language acquisition?

Through this book, I would like to provide an opportunity for children to imagine how the relationship between numbers and words can provide hints for understanding or, conversely, lead to confusion. It is often said that “an important part of arithmetic is to improve Japanese language skills and reading comprehension”; therefore, I believe it would be interesting to consider arithmetic through a lens of linguistics to learn more about what may lead to useful realizations for that purpose, or conversely, “cases where reading comprehension simply isn’t enough.”

This book may not be useful for guiding children to provide accurate answers more frequently; however, I expect it will provide an opportunity to contemplate how there (may) exist a rich world that reflects the workings of the mind to understand numbers and words, underlying all those patterns “graded as incorrect.”

(Written by HIROSE Yuki (originally in Japanese), Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences / 2024)