Introduction: What Is Mathematical Language?
Specialized domains of activity generally have their own specialized vocabularies and ways of speaking and writing; consider, for example, the language used in the practices of law or computer science, fishing, or football. The specialized language enables participants to communicate efficiently about the objects peculiar to their practice and to get things done, though it may simultaneously serve to exclude other people who are not specialists in the domain. This is certainly the case for the specialized activity of mathematics: While some aspects of mathematical language, such as its high degree of abstraction, may be an obstacle to participation for some people, doing mathematics is highly dependent on using its specialized forms of language, not only to communicate with others but even to generate new mathematics. In making this claim, we need to be clearer about what mathematical language is.
For some, the language of mathematics is...
KeywordsAlgebraic notation Communication Genre Language Mathematical vocabulary Multimodality Objectification Register Representations Semiotic systems
- Austin JL, Howson AG (1979) Language and mathematical education. Educ Stud Math 10:161–197Google Scholar
- Barton B (2008) The language of mathematics: telling mathematical tales. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Burton L, Morgan C (2000) Mathematicians writing. J Res Math Educ 31(4):429–453Google Scholar
- Duval R (2006) A cognitive analysis of problems of comprehension in the learning of mathematics. Educ Stud Math 61(1–2):103–131Google Scholar
- Halliday MAK (1974) Some aspects of sociolinguistics. In interactions between linguistics and mathematical education. UNESCO, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Halliday MAK, Martin JR (1993) Writing science: literacy and discursive power. Falmer Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Mousley J, Marks G (1991) Discourses in mathematics. Deakin University, GeelongGoogle Scholar
- O’Halloran KL (2005) Mathematical discourse: language, symbolism and visual images. Continuum, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Pimm D (1987) Speaking mathematically: communication in mathematics classrooms. Routledge Kegan & Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Sfard A (2008) Thinking as communicating: human development, the growth of discourses, and mathematizing. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar