The Chinese girl winner have no limits

Indeed a human calculator machine :grinning:



I am sad for the girl who was crying.

I think she has the capability to do this. But 1 mistake makes her wrong.

Sometimes it happens with me when i did one mistake and my all answer wrong.

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These Chinese geniuses should finally come to some international mental math and arithmetic competitions so that we can all compare each other on a global scale.

But to do that, they should learn some more English (like we all non-native English speakers, have to do).


Why do these competitors need to learn english? Don’t they get translations?

I think the bigger issue would be visas and the cost of the flight.


I suppose world class competitors in all sports figure out ways to travel to world championships. I don’t think it would be some special barrier!

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There isn’t much figuring out to do when you cannot get a visa.

Most of the competition format has questions mainly in English.

In the World Cup 2018 many Japanese competitors faced many difficulties in a physics-related calculating surprise problem, in which we were asked to find how many meters has the light transversed in a given amount of times ( X microseconds, milliseconds, hours, minutes, day and so on), given the speed of light C. In such problems, it is extremely useful to know English, in order not to get lost in translation.

That’s not just a language problem though… I could give you a problem in English converting lakh, crore, etc. and if you spoke Indian English you’d still be at an advantage. Same is true with the speed of light question at the competition as US competitors would be more familiar with “c” in terms of miles (not km) per second. So even with math there will be a certain bias at such competitions…

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I find it very amusing that competitors have to face language issues at major competitions. I have not seen it happen in memory competitions or other sports, so I am surprised to find it in a mental math competition!

Are these things unavoidable or can they be resolved if the organizers get native language translators to handle these things (like surprise events)?

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I’ve seen it with words for sure… just like with c in kilometers or miles… there is obviously (and unavoidably) a socio-cultural bias there. I remember that a German competitor told me at the 2016 WMC that they had “Wandgemälde” as a word… the English word was simply “painting.” I say simply, because technically the German word there was “wall-painting.” You’d have to memorize two ideas so to speak… just “Gemälde” which is a valid German word and also means painting would be an incorrect answer.

Similarly, fun discussion with a Chinese competitor about the third word being “king” because in Chinese three is 三 and king is 王, so all you have to do it “pin” the three to the loci. These are actually words from four years ago that I can still recall because of how much of a difference the language made. Other than names, with similar but different issues… how’d there be an issue with memorizing digits or cards?

You can in fact get your calendar dates in whatever local format you want… much like you can get words and n&f in whatever script you want at memory competitions. Answers were given out to double check in English, German, and French. I don’t recall the WMC instruction been given out in 20 different languages during the competition either.

Again, the bigger problem is the visa requirements, cost of flight and accommodation… the World Cup is held in Germany every two years, MSO is in the UK and Memoriad is only every four years.

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I totally agree Bjoern. Not all languages are equal. Some of them have the capacity to allow for better memorization. Especially, when there are many synonyms for a word and therefore a bigger flexibility for connection, loci and ideas. Most natural languages, should be based on logic. Some linguists like Chomsky have made much work on this issue.

The same happen with programming languages. Obviously, some of them are better than others. The Chinese language or the Kanji script in Japan, have a vast visual vocabulary and maybe this helps in the visual memorization. In contrast, Indo-European languages are usually more theoretical.

It be a shame if they were. :wink:

True, even though “logic” is a bit vague. I could argue that the Hebrew word for father (אב) is “more logical” than the Greek word for father (πατήρ), because it combines the letters alef and bet meaning strength and house, respectively (etymologically speaking). So you got the “strength of the house” (a concept you can grasp) in Hebrew and a very abstract concept in (Ancient) Greek by comparison. In Proto-Hebrew they’re actually letters that look like an ox’s head (strength) and a floorplan (house).

On the other hand, once you got the Greek and following that the Latin “pater” you got the basis for patriarch and patriarchy and ultimately where the word “pope” comes from. Now, knowing all this… if you had to remember either of the two words, you could use: Pope on the ark telling Noah to not give the animals condoms (Africa issue with Aids and the catholic church) for patri-arch or a bunch of dads doing with bows and arrows (archery) for patri-archy.

Depends, 父 is only one character to describe “father,” but there are more synonyms than in Indo-European languages. If you do the event in English you’re right, if you chose Chinese you got the same problem as Wandgemälde and Gemälde in German. Where else would you hang a painting other than a wall? It’s tautological in this context at least. Careful, with the assumption that Chinese script (or Kanji) in visual only… yes, in the basic classes a lot is pictographic, but even “trees” stop looking like trees… it’s not Acient Egypt were talking about here… no hieroglyphics.

Sorry, I don’t follow… are we talking about high-level vs assembly or functional vs procedural, etc.? Yes, sometimes it’s more helpful to have Prolog handy to define father of the father as grandfather… sometimes Lisp is more useful and sometimes anything that came out of Fortran is easier to use.

Are we talking in terms of readability, writability, and execution time? Yes, it’s easier to read “begin” and “end” vs just using brackets but are we talking about 6-year olds or people who can actually program? Also, since I recently got needlessly censored on here for telling some script kiddy about his boot camp knowledge, when I have an actual degree is this stuff… please don’t tell me how Javascript is the answer… that falls under Fortran. I asked @Nodas, so there are grownups talking here… please keep your udemy “knowledge” to yourself.

On more on English and math though… in the US it’s perfectly normal to state a problem as “how many times does 3 divide into 15” and the answer is 5. Most other languages talk about 15 divided by 3 and consider 3x5 a multiplication. Essentially, the difference of asking how many buckets of water to fill the pool vs how many buckets of water to empty the pool.

Of course, division is just multiplication backwards and subtraction is just adding negative numbers, but then the second binomial formula is redundant too because it’s just the first using negative numbers.

Archery and ‘patri-archy’ are a false cognate. They sound similar but the have different root. Archery comes from the latin ‘arc/ arcus’ (=bow) and this word did not exist in ancient Greek.

On the other hand, as you probably know, the suffix -archy in patriarchy, means ‘starting point or first/ beginning’ (αρχή / archy / archi ). This is used also as prefix often, in words like archbishop or arch enemy.

Are we talking in terms of readability, writability, and execution time?

When I wrote, that some are better than others, I meant better on each own special applications. Of course , all languages are useful, that is why they were invented in the first place. But I meant, that for a specific application, some languages will be more efficient than other (according to many of the parameters you mentioned, like speed or legibility/readability.

On natural languages and numbers, I believe that some languages like French make it much more difficult for intuitive calculation. For example, in French, the number 90 is pronounced like 4 x 20 + 10.

Bjoern, what is your opinion on that ? If you compare languages which belong in the same Germanic family (like English , Dutch, German), do you think that some of them allow more efficient calculation and memorization of numbers? I am only proficient in English , That is why I ask.

About Greek, knowing some etymological roots is definitely an advantage in science and medicine. But nowadays we are a bit disadvantaged in Greek, because we do not use the universal ubiquitous Latin alphabet. So, the Greek and Cyrillic script seem bizarre to foreigners. Even, the Turks switched to the Latin alphabet, for more integration to the West.

In the 19th century many Greek scholars vehemently opposed the changed to the Latin alphabet, because in Greece (and Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire), the Latin alphabet was always associated with Catholicism/Protestantism.
So, because the Greeks were Orthodox/Eastern Christians, they definitely did not want a cultural association to the Rome or Holy Roman empire, especially after both churches divided around 11th century.

You are absolutely right, but my point was in the context of the “Words event” at memory competitions (sorry, didn’t mention that). So there it’s easier to just have a picture of dudes with bows and arrows as opposed to putting them into “starting blocks” at a 100m race. Most people here will ask questions about how to memorize the correct ending of “difficult” words, such as patriarch and patriarchy… and bear in mind, they’re not the same, so you’ll get a mistake for it and lose half the points on that column in the competition. A second mistake and you lose all the points for that column. You are certainly correct about the actual etymology.

Understood. Yeah, I’d much prefer writing a LISP interpreter in 5 lines of LIPS as opposed to doing the same in any other language. :wink:

I’ll answer that in a separate reply.

Absolutely… and the same goes for Latin.

I know where you’re coming from, but I’d suggest we discuss that in person at the next World Cup in person as that might be a sensitive subject to some people on the forum.

I think that depends on how much of an inner monologue you got when working with numbers. In terms of natural language, I probably read mine in a Chinese way… even though I just try to read a number as individual digits in their respective position. I’ll get back to that later.

The three languages I use most are English, French, German (in that order). By the way, English, though technically a Germanic language has a lot of vocabulary that it shares with the Italic languages. It’s a strange mix with pretty limited grammar to make things worse. So let me start with 7x3=21 as an example:

twenty one
vingt et un (in English: twenty and one)
einundzwanzig (in English: one and twenty)

Now at 22, French all of a sudden starts following English convention (vingt-deux) and drops the “and” between the tenth and the unit digit. The “and” between the two digits is also there when it’s the “funny” numbers you’ve mentioned like 71, which is 60+11 in French (soixante-et-onze). In German on the other hand the “and” is always present. This gets worse because in French 91 is “quatre vingt onze” without an “and” before the 11. Let’s take 31,023 next:

thirty one thousand and twenty three
trente et un mille vingt trois (thirty and one thousand twenty three)
ein’und’dreißig’tausend’drei’und’zwanzig (one and thirty thousand three and twenty)

The German is actually just one word but I spaced it out to make it easier to read. So, English now introduces an “and” after the thousand, French stays true to form with the “and” only if a 1 follows and German is doing it’s funny unit-before-tens even in the thousands.

Dutch by the way has the post-thousand “and” just like in English “eenendertig duizend en drieëntwintig” but other than that it follows the German unit-tens order. Out of all of them, German is definitely the hardest to read, because it is simply one single word.

Now, French has individual names for numbers up to 16; whereas, German and English only has special names for 11 and 12. English is German up to twenty with it’s 3-teen, 4-teen, 5-teen, etc. and if they wanted to, they could have easily gone, 1-tween, 2-tween, etc for the twenties… or even “five thirty” instead of “thirty five,” after all it’s “fifteen” (granted, not “five teen” but what’s the difference really). English speakers, by the way, will either know that they follow German logic up to 19 or claim that they got individual names for the numbers up to 19 (which is of course not the case).

Back to my earlier comment about Chinese… 321 is 三一 where the two highlighted one basically mean hundredth and tenth, respectively (no symbol for the unit digit)… basically, 3H2T1. For 301 it’ll either be 三一 or 三〇一 where the former considers the tenth an empty set and thus doesn’t put anything or the latter with a non-Chinese zero character (you’ll find that in accounting, etc.)

I use either of those two in my head when I calculate without giving them names though. Maybe that’s a bias I have because of my background in computer science… I’m also not too bothered by converting between decimal, hexadecimal, octal, and binary. Either way, like I said, I try to read the number as “the digits in their position.”

The thing is, in your L1 it’ll make sense to you either way; even in French, that’s just what you call the number… nobody calculates 4x20+17=97. Chinese calls it 1-ten-1 and 1-ten-2 instead of having an eleven or a twelve… basically, oneteen and twoteen in English or einsundzehn und zweiundzehn in German. No reason those two shouldn’t exist, except for the fact that both used to be base12 a long, long time ago. You can still see it with 12 inch = 1 foot in the US or in the fact that we call 12 a dozen.

Wow, long post… but while I’m at it… gets worse with weekdays… so, as you know in Ancient Greek the weekdays were named after the planets and then Latin followed suit and not in almost all the Romance languages you got Mars-day for Tuesday and Mercury-day for Wednesday; except for Portuguese but I’ll get back to that. The Tue in Tuesday and the Wed in Wednesday by the way corresponds to the Norse gods (planets) that had the same jobs as their Roman equivalents.

Portuguese numbers the days just like Chinese does. Though in Chinese it’s dayoftheweek-1 (星期一), dayoftheweek-2 (星期二), etc up to 6 and then dayofthedweek-sun. Portuguese for whatever reason decided that Sunday is the first day and thus Monday would be “Segunda-feira”. You’ll not find any Brasilian or Portuguese competitor though that would use 2 for Monday in a competition because the Portuguese word for two is “dois” (m) or “duas” (f) and the word “segunda” is too Latin to make that association, so Monday is considered the first day of the week.

Let me complete the craziness (hope I don’t bore you yet), the Japanese call Tuesday fire-day, because Mars is the fire-star and thanks to the Dutch they names their weekdays after the Roman (Greek originally for all I care) gods. Only thing missing now is commenting on your “Germanic” languages, because you can’t group it like that… here’s Danish for you. My apologies for just linking to it, but I can’t really write all that :wink: This one takes the cake though… especially, if you like fractions.

Bottom line, you are best served to just read numbers as numbers (or digits in their positions if you prefer)

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