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Is mathematics a language?

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Is mathematics a language? There has always been a bit of confusion as to whether mathematics is a language itself. Before we go into detail, we must first define the meaning of "language". Language is a system of terms that are used in a particular manner and carry a particular meaning. It can also be defined as the expression of ideas by writing, or any other instrumentality such as gestures, marks, voice sounds, or written symbols/signs that have understood meanings. Simply because mathematics does not have the same fluency as a natural language and a specific origin, many assume that it is not a language. However, mathematics possesses most of the important characteristics of being a language. These are, As we discussed before, language is a communication through expressing one's ideas or thoughts. The building blocks of language are words; each one carries a meaning and thought as having symbolic significance. ...read more.


After this process, we would be able to use these symbols in mathematics to simplify things which could be easier to understand. By this, I mean once one sees "1+1 = 2", s/he would automatically formulate the idea in his/her brain and understand that "when one added to one, equals 2". In the process of learning more symbols, we would be able to apply them into mathematics problems and assist the process of calculation in mathematics. Moreover, mathematics also helps us to simplify things. Just as when we write an equation, "b2 + 6b = 9", we would not write it in English as "b to the power of two plus six multiply by b, equals nine" When we express an equation in "mathematical language", it would be more concise and understandable. As mathematics simplifies things, it would acts as a system of communication that minimizes the number of justifiable interpretations. ...read more.


As we know, Chinese is a language evolved from China, and was originally started from shapes. They were formed from stylized pictures of some physical objects such as"", would be the moon. They are therefore called pictographs, which possessed the earliest form of the characteristics of a script. These picture-words underwent a gradual evolution over the centuries until the pictographs changed into "square characters," which we uses nowadays. On the other hand, mathematics does not have its specific origin. As I have mentioned before, mathematics is not a language that can be spoken aloud. We often use another natural language to express ourselves in mathematics language. For instance, we would express "+" as the word "addition" in English. In this case, therefore, mathematics is more like a symbols, or signs that represent words from other languages. In conclusion, a language is a system of communicating, expressing, conveying ideas, thoughts, knowledge, and information. Mathematics does possess these distinguish features therefore I believe mathematics is a language TOK - Mathematics Carmen Cheng Theory of Knowledge January 3, 2004 ...read more.

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