The language of science is math. The Italian astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei, had this to say on the subject, "The universe cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word." So is math a real language, like French or Chinese? There are multiple definitions for the word 'language' but this one seems like it might include math, "Language may refer to a system of communication using symbols or sounds." But whatever definition you choose, language must contain the following components:
1. There must be a vocabulary of words or symbols.
2. Meaning must be attached to the words or symbols.
3. A language employs grammar, which is a set of rules that outlines how the vocabulary is used.
4. A syntax organizes symbols into linear structures or propositions.
5. A narrative or discourse consists of strings of syntatic propositions.
6. There must be, or have been, a group of people (and/or frogs) who use and understand the symbols.
Mathematics meets all of these requirements. The symbols, their meaning, syntax, and grammar are the same the world over. You might say that math is the Esperanto of the science world; a universal language. The vocabulary of math draws from many different alphabets and includes symbols unique to math. A mathematical equation may be stated in words to form a sentence that has a noun and verb, just like a sentence in a spoken language. For example: 3 + 5 = 8 could be stated as, "Three added to five equals eight."
The math sentence can be broken down like this: nouns in match can include: numerals, fractions, variables (letters), and diagrams or visual element (circles, triangles, etc), to name but a few. Verbs can include; equalities or inequalities (= < >), actions like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
"If you try to perform a sentence diagram on a mathematical sentence, you'll find infinitives, conjunctions, adjectives, etc. As in other languages, the role played by a symbol depends on its context. Mathematics grammar and syntax, like vocabulary, are international. No matter what country you're from or what language you speak, the structure of the mathematical language is the same." Understanding mathematical sentences can be very helpful when learning how to perform math. If you're like me, you might find math intimidating. Putting a mathematical equation into familiar context, like diagramming a sentence, can make this learning this new language feel more approachable.
I know that there are arguments against math as a language but, as a writer who loves language, I like to think it is one. It helps me to be less afraid to use it. Math is something we use nearly every day, even when we might not realize it. It's always good to be bilingual; but perhaps we should think in terms of becoming multilingual...our native tongue, a second language, and also math.
Sprichst du math?