Number as a cognitive technology: Evidence from Pirahã language and cognition

Michael C. Frank
Does speaking a language without number words change the way speakers of that language perceive exact quantities? The Pirahã are an Amazonian tribe who have been previously studied for their limited numerical system [Gordon, P. (2004). Numerical cognition without words: Evidence from Amazonia. Science 306, 496–499]. We show that the Pirahã have no linguistic method whatsoever for expressing exact quantity, not even “one.” Despite this lack, when retested on the matching tasks used by Gordon,...
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