This article addresses the relationship between language and mathematical thinking by reconsidering early work on language and number names. The analysis examines theoretical assumptions, later empirical data, and critiques of those early studies. Researchers, practitioners, and curriculum designers in mathematics education working in multilingual settings need to develop an updated view of this early work on number names across languages, carefully considering what early research actually showed, how it has been critiqued, and how to theoretically frame claims about language and mathematical thinking. The analysis presented here suggests several ways to frame such an updated perspective, including work on linguistic relativity and ecological approaches to the relationship between language and mathematical thinking.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.