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When Numbers Fought With Words

I had a little kid, a student asked me what would happen if numbers and letters ever fought. I couldn't imagine the scene playing through the ten-year-old mind, but I could imagine the scenes that played through mine. So I described them. I described them as they came to mind, I described them and I realized who would win this fight.

I think it's fairly reasonable to assume that there is almost nothing that language has not tried to describe, and it has come up with singular multivariate definitions for as many things as we can place them on. Different languages adapt better to different situations, environments, and cultures of people. Some just adapt better overall.

The problem is there are still things language can not describe. Still barriers in a transition between one language and another, between cultures with the same language, and between descriptions even if the words are said and understood by both parties when spoken. I mean I could describe the marker I’m holding in my hand. If we don’t all see the marker, even if we have before but don’t know, and we just try to all imagine the same marker, we would all see it slightly differently because of the words used to describe it. If it was something that we had not seen before it would be even further apart from one another in the pictures of our mind.

This is antagonizing for anyone thinking that language stood a chance in this fight. Language might be more sly than we give it credit for. It’s always finding a way to work in a conversation, and always having something to say. The pushback comes at the expense of numbers. Math Equations. There is not one thing in this world that cannot be defined in strictly terms of numbers. Not only quantities but even language can be broken down into coded numbers. The same can't be said the other way around.

You could have binary code describing every single thing in this whole world, just without motion. You could have the 0’s and 1’s that tell you everything. Just strictly numbers could describe any still picture or view of anything in the whole wide world as long as it’s still. As soon as it begins to move, the numbers form sentences, sentences in different forms.

To incorporate motion or to incorporate any form of reaction, that's called an equation. Equations, aka shortcuts, and descriptions of how the numbers that are assigned to things react in nature. Well, I could write a math equation and give it to any corner of the world and it would be well understood, in some places even laughed at for not being as difficult as it should. The same cannot be said for any single language. So I look down at the child, oh my student, and I asked him so is that what you thought would happen if language and math ever fought? Did you think his numbers and letters were actually out to get each other that it would end up like that? A brutal battle and a senseless beating?

My student looked up gazing into my eyes, he probably saw no light in mine as I saw sparkling in his. He turned to look away, to let the sparkle shine from his vision onto the rest of the world as he said this,

“No, that's not how I saw it turning out.” He put his finger gun on his chin to raise an eyebrow and give the epitome picture of deep thoughts from children. He continued

“I figured that the math would have been the sensible one and try not to pick a fight. You know crunched the numbers. Told language it was reasonable and through deductions shown them how they were different sides of the same coin.”

He paused to acquire a face of concerned apathy. A confusion rested as his little mind cast his doubt on the rest of the breakdown.

“I thought language full of emotions and love would find a way to better describe any difference they had as something other than a fight, to find a way to say, even if he only hated numbers how it was just misconstrued… you know it was love.”

Then he turned back to me the sparkle in his eyes gone and a little flame in this place.

And he said, but you know I'm only in 5th grade so what do I know?

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