This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

## Tuesday, 16 May 2017

### Thing To Be Today: numerate.

For me, on the whole, maths was always a way of avoiding having to do arithmetic.

I don't know if that makes me adequately numerate or not, but I get by. I'd need a bit of notice to work out whether a crocodile swimming across a river with a current of 4 metres per second would catch the vole walking along the far bank towards his burrow, but then luckily I don't come across wild crocodiles much.

Or, to be honest, ever.

Having said that, I do like equations, and a curly x I find a sweet little creature, rather like the vole mentioned above.

photo by Peter Trimming

To the panic-stricken equation-phobic, can I just say: a) calm down; and b) you know that equals sign? The thing that looks like this:

=

?

well, all an equation is, is something with an equals sign in the middle.

So 2 = 2 is an equation, and so is 1 + 2 = 3

All right so far?

1 + 3 = ? is an equation, too, and it's one you can probably solve if you know what the equals sign and the question mark mean, which I'm sure you do.

(Yes, well done, the answer is 4.)

Right then, equation-phobics, here's the secret.

That curly terrifying x you get in equations? It's just another way of writing a question mark. Honestly, that's all it is. And the y s and z s are the same. All just signs for a question mark.

So, can you solve this equation?

2 - 1 = x

Thing To Be Today: numerate. Because numerate people aren't necessarily the most creative on a literary level the word numerate has been made up by taking the Latin word for number, numerus, and making it more or less rhyme with literate.

Well, it does the job, doesn't it.