Iconic and non-iconic stages in number development: the role of language
Is language the key to number? This article argues that the human language faculty provides the cognitive equipment that enables humans to develop a systematic number concept. Importantly, the number concept is based on non-iconic representations that involve relations between relations: relations between numbers are linked with relations between objects. In contrast to this, language-independent numerosity concepts provide only iconic representations. The pattern of forming relations between relations lies at the heart of our language faculty, suggesting that it is language that enables humans to make the step from these iconic representations, which we share with other species, to a generalized concept of number.