When wood turns digital
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Disability with numbers - for a bookkeeper just plain weird?

Every language has its own particular way or method to pronounce numbers. Some go from left to right (80 + 4 = 84), some from right to left (4 + 80 = 84) and some, well lets not call names but it can be very complicated to count in French (4 x 20 + 4 = 84).

Numbers As bookkeeper and lets not forget my other job: sales person, working with numbers is all in a days work. Nothing special you can say.

But.... since I don't know how long I have a problem with numbers. I keep turning them around. Just mention 67 to me and I'll write down 76, 57 becomes 75, 84 turns into 48 etc.

Now, our native language (Dutch) reads numbers from right to left: four and eighty makes 84. Could that be the problem? We Westerns read from left to right, not the other way round.
So when we moved to the UK 8.5 years ago (time flies when you're having fun!) I thought the problem would 'solve itself': eighty four makes 84 - reading numbers from left to right like 'normal' standard reading of words. But alas. 84 still turns into 48.
I always ask callers to spell their phone number digit for digit, I get 'lost' otherwise.

My partner remarked on it again yesterday. Why couldn't I get 'it' right? (He happened to be in our showroom when I mispronounced a price per sq m not once but twice - oh, the troubles I've been in sometimes for doing this!)

I told him I just don't know. I concentrate on getting it right, of course I do, but no matter how hard I think: I have to pronounce this right, I have to pronounce this the right way round... I keep turning it around. I've come up with a trick: imagining the number written down on paper and then almost spelling it out - helps a bit but not always.

Being dyslectic - word blind - is a 'common' and recognised disability. I just wondered if there are more 'disabled' bookkeepers like me around who are "number-deaf"?

I can't be the only one!


Richard McLaughlin

Yepp, here in France the numbers are odd. When someone tells me a phone number in the 90's I have a hard time. when they start to say 98 it begins with the word 4 so I start writing a 4(quatre). then the word 20 (quatre vingt) so I start writing an 8 instead of the 4 then they say 10 - 8 ( quatre vingt dix huit) so saying 4 20's 10 8 means 98.

There is an old word for 90 that the Belge use "neuftant" that means 90, but I suppose that sounds too German for the Frogs.

Of course the Brits say trebble zero which hangs me up, and I'm a native English speaker.

I also get annoyed when we Americans say O (oh, the letter) and not 0 (zero, the number).

Karin H

Hi Richard

Well in a way I'm very glad we decided to move to the UK and not to France (one family-member there is enough - my little 'big' brother lives out there).
I would have been in terrible trouble there every day I guess. So... every cloud has a silver lining ;-)

(I better not tell you then that I prefer the O over the zero? And 'love-fifteen' - what's that all about?)

Karin H.

Robert Hruzek

Karin, I have some bad news... you ARE the only one! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! :-D

No, just kidding. Sheesh! I thought disluxi-, duslexus-, deslucsius-, turning numbers around was just a sortof mental condition some folks have (sometimes I do too). Now I find out other languages do it too! Wow, learn something new every day.

You must have had a tough time of it when you moved to the Isles!

And I'm with ya on that 'love-fifteen' thing, too. :-\

Karin H

Bwa-ha-ha-ha indeed! It does sometimes feel I am the only one though - all those eyebrows raised when I mention my 'number-deafness'.

Hardest bit was realising it didn't make any difference at all to 'my condition' living and working in a country where - from a Dutch point of view - they had turned the numbers around already.

Or.... now I finally get it right, but just in the wrong language!?!?

Karin H.

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