Mathematics: it’s the language that counts

mathematics

By Tony Grice
Can you speak mathematics?

Some linguists claim that mathematics has the design features of a language. Equations are the equivalent of sentences, +, =, ÷ etc. are verbs and adjectives, numbers are nouns and variables like x & y are pronouns. Mathematicians can use complex equations to discuss the workings of the universe without knowing each other’s languages and the rest of us can negotiate with taxi drivers and shopkeepers in foreign cities using basic arithmetic on a scrap of paper.

It may be true that written maths is a language, but . . .

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