LINGUIST List 22.4594

Thu Nov 17 2011

Qs: Number Mistakes', Language and Numeracy

Editor for this issue: Zac Smith <>

        1.     Bernhard Fisseni , Number Mistakes', Language and Numeracy

Message 1: Number Mistakes', Language and Numeracy
Date: 17-Nov-2011
From: Bernhard Fisseni <>
Subject: Number Mistakes', Language and Numeracy
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Dear fellow linguists,

we would be grateful for your help on two questions regardinglanguage and numeracy.


We are looking for names of mistakes regarding numbers, esp.confusion of digits. Examples of such terms are German''Zahlendreher'' and Spanish ''baile de números'', which (at leastprototypically) refer to mistakes such as (saying, writing) ''34'' insteadof ''43''.

Do you know such a term in any languages? We would be interested inthe following aspects:

- (What is the term, and in which language/s is it used?)- What do these terms prototypically or normatively refer to? Is there an extension of the concept (such as 'general number mistake'), at least in less formal registers?- Is the term register-specific?- In what order with respect to the ‘digits’ are names of numbers expressed in the respective language/s (and, if the number names are not based on the decimal system, what is the base)?- (Hints to lexicon entries are also appreciated very much, and even more so authentic examples or pointers to them.)

We would also welcome corresponding comments on ''Zahlendreher''and ''baile de números''.


We would also appreciate pointers to research literature on the relationbetween linguistic structure and number mistakes. We are aware of thework by Nuerk and others (e.g. Zuber et al. 2009), but we have notbeen able to find articles with a more linguistic focus, or comparingdifferent languages.

Of course, we gladly provide more research context if you areinterested.

Grateful for any hints.Kind Regards,

Benedikt Loewe, Universiteit van Amsterdam>


J. Zuber, S. Pixner, K. Moeller, H.-C. Nuerk. 2009. On the languagespecificity of basic number processing: Transcoding in a language withinversion and its relation to working memory capacity. Journal ofExperimental Child Psychology 102 (2009), 60-77.

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science                             Psycholinguistics                             Syntax

Page Updated: 17-Nov-2011