This made me wonder, and I'm super curious to hear how others who are more familiar with choral counts and/or more familiar with linguistics might think about this: how would such pause points play out in different languages? Here are two ideas I have:
- In Mandarin, it's common to drop the -ty from tens (saying 24 as "two four" instead of "two ten four" or 86 as "eight six" instead of "eight ten six"), especially when counting, and also common to insert "zero" when there's a zero in the tens place (saying 104 as "one zero four" instead of "one hundred and zero four" or "one hundred and four"). There are some interesting quirks with teens, too, such that 114 would be "one one four" rather than "one hundred four"). Counting up by 10s starting at 64 might sound like "six four, seven four, eight four, nine four, one zero four, one one four..."). Now, I learned to count in Mandarin in an informal home setting rather than in school, so it's also possible that elementary school teachers require students to say the whole number ("one hundred one ten four" instead of "one one four") the same way that in English, we might ask students to say "one hundred [and] fourteen" instead of "one fourteen"). That, on the other hand, would require students to go from "eight ten four" to "nine ten four" to "one hundred one ten four" rather than to the more intuitive "ten ten four," which might bring its own set of challenges.
- In French, the number seventy is said as "sixty ten," eighty is said "four twenty," and ninety is "four twenty ten" (but this pattern doesn't hold true in smaller numbers). So the same series would sound like "sixty four, sixty fourteen, four twenty four, four twenty fourteen, hundred four, hundred fourteen, hundred twenty four, hundred thirty four..." The really nice thing about French is that the 17, 18, and 19 at least are said as "ten seven," "ten eight," and "ten nine," which helps with thinking and talking about place value, even though 11-16 all have their own unique words (although it also means that 98 sounds like "four twenty ten eight").
So now I'm thinking about what choral counts sound like in other languages and where the tricky spots are, and how that influences what is tricky about choral counts for ELLs and teachers planning to teach ELLs. I imagine that it'd be helpful for them to know the number structure of their students' home languages to anticipate challenges and places worth probing in their choral counts, which would provide some really delightful opportunities to support both students' mathematical thinking and their language development.
Have you noticed this? What does it make you think? Can you give us an example in another language?