Quantity recognition among speakers of an anumeric language

Caleb Everett, Keren Madora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Recent research has suggested that the Pirahã, an Amazonian tribe with a number-less language, are able to match quantities >3 if the matching task does not require recall or spatial transposition. This finding contravenes previous work among the Pirahã. In this study, we re-tested the Pirahãs' performance in the crucial one-to-one matching task utilized in the two previous studies on their numerical cognition, as well as in control tasks requiring recall and mental transposition. We also conducted a novel quantity recognition task. Speakers were unable to consistently match quantities >3, even when no recall or transposition was involved. We provide a plausible motivation for the disparate results previously obtained among the Pirahã. Our findings are consistent with the suggestion that the exact recognition of quantities >3 requires number terminology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-141
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Linguistic relativity
  • Number
  • Numerical cognition
  • Pirahã

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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