[Numeracy 186] Re: The double negative language-math link

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Carol King cking at lyon.k12.nv.us
Tue Feb 16 16:27:29 EST 2010

The rule in teaching English is that a double negative statement creates
a positive statement, so, for a few students, it makes sense to hang my
hat on the hook they have. Since they know in English " to not not go"
creates a positive statement that you are going (and must be rewritten
as such) it bridges their mental block about double negatives in math
changing to addition problems.

Carol King

Fernley Adult Education

cking at lyon.k12.nv.us


From: numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Michael Gyori
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2010 8:58 AM
To: The Math and Numeracy Discussion List
Subject: [Numeracy 148] The double negative language-math link

Greetings everone,

Carol King stated,

If I am taking out taking out 8, as in 10 - (-8), then I must be adding

I read it a few times and find myself perplexed by it, as much as I
believe I understand its intent.

"Taking out" is a positive statement and regardless of how many times
you say it, it remains positive, and what changes - perhaps, depending
on how I choose to understand it - is the number of times you
(***yes***) "take out." If I take out once, I have 2 left, and I cannot
take take out again, because I can't take another 8 out of 2.

Alternatively, I can understand the meaning to be that I am "taking
out" the taking out of 8, which then could leave me to believe that I
wanted to take out, then decided against it, such that I end up doing
nothing. I still have 10.

The problem, as I see it, is that we are getting into integers.
Negative values have no meaning in the world of the concrete, because
once you have 0 left, that's it. On the other hand, if we deal with
negative balances (such as when you overdraw your balance in your
checking account), you create meaning because it can and does happen.
In other words, negatives carry meaning in mathematical, but not
physical (reality) terms...



Michael A. Gyori

Maui International Language School

www.mauilanguage.com <http://www.mauilanguage.com/>

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