# Which are you--Numbers, Letters or Both?

Reader-Dopers, remember the childhood book “The Phantom Tollbooth”, where the main character, Milo, is entertained by both the ruler of letters (King AZAZ) and the ruler of numbers (The Mathmatician) when he visits the lands inside the tollbooth? Both kings are brothers (IIRC) and are perpetually fighting between themselves because each feels he represents the more important human tool.

Of course, the book has a happy resolution for this dilemma, but it has occurred to me repeatedly since reading this as a child that folks in general seem to have an inclination, or a proclivity, for one or another (letters or numbers?), and there is even a group of folks who can move from one world to another effectively.

So which are you?

I’m a bookkeeper, with a huge thirst for reading (wearing my “So Many Books, So Little Time!” sweatshirt as I type this at work, in between bank account reconciliations). I think I can move between the worlds somewhat effectively, but have to admit that words have always held far more sway over me than numbers.

And you, my friends? Please tell me why, as well.

I am horrible at mental math- not to the point where I can’t figure out my grocery tab with a quick sum of the cart’s contents, but in general, it takes me a long time to picture numbers in relation to one another. Today, my boss yelled out into cubicle-land, “what’s three-hundred million divided by thirty thousand?” and I tried to calculate it mentally, but couldn’t picture the zeros in my head, and thought to myself, just as a better-skilled coworker shouted the answer back, “I’m smart, man, I got through differential equations (barely) in college… why don’t I know this?”

Meanwhile, I spent about a half-hour this weekend contemplating the distinction between “covered with” and “covered in”… and enjoyed every minute of it! So, without a doubt, I am definitely a letters/words person. I love word-relations and combinations more than I will ever appreciate a complicated mathematical calculation, although I do have friends who are exactly the opposite.

On my SATs I scored exactly equal on the math and verbal sections.

I’m a letters person working in a numbers world and loving every minute of it.

nongoog, the question begs, do you prefer being covered with letters, or covered in letters?

I am much, much more of a words person than a numbers person. In elementary school, I would go straight from my Honors English class to my Remedial Math class. Just me and another kid, in the library, with our special teacher. Today, I’m probably better at math than a lot of the people I know, but still not very good at it.

I am mostly letters. When I started school I was already reading at a level that caused concern – they thought I was abnormal and doomed to be a social misfit. (Actually, this may be partially true.) In reality, I just had an older sister who was herself too young to “know” that I was too young to learn to read, so she taught me, and I liked it. A lot.

I tend to obsess about words and the connections between them, although I have learned in large part to keep this to myself. Drives my girlfriend up the wall. “I don’t care what ‘umbrella’ means, it’s still weird to carry one when it isn’t raining. You’re so annoying sometimes!”

Today at work (I’m a file administrator) I was thinking about the etymological connection between “file” and “filament,” and how it hints at an archaic organizational technology that is so obsolete as to be nearly completely forgotten.

As I dd my work, the larger part of my consciousness was flipping through all the verbal fossilized technology I could recall.

Yeah, words, for sure.

I’m a numbers person. Not words. Bad with those.

I am all letters, all the time.

Numbers make me melt. aiiiiieeee!

I’m slightly higher scoring in literacy than I am in numeracy (last test was ages ago, but they were high-90s), so I’d say I’m a letters-person with close relatives in the numbers section that I say hi to now and then.

01101110 01110101 01101101 01100010 01100101 01110010 01110011 even though I’m not a math whiz or anything. They just make more sense to me - Letters are arbitrary.

:smack: I meant “01001110 01110101 01101101 01100010 01100101 01110010 01110011”, of course.

fun with binary

I’d say both. I really don’t like numbers all that much, but all my schooling and work has involved them, so I guess we’ve reached some sort of “understanding”.

Same. 700/700.

It’s all cool.

I’m a numbers person in a letters job, and doing pretty well at it.

I scored slightly higher on the verbal portion than the math, which surprised me. I always thought I was better at math, but once I started taking college English classes I realized that I just hated the crap I had to read in primary school. And then when I started taking a bunch of math classes for my computer science degree, linear algebra and probability kicked my ass all over the place. I didn’t have so much trouble with calculus though.

I’m definitely letters. Numbers don’t do anything for me and although I can manage basic mathematical stuff, anything remotely complicated just send me into a tailspin. I’m the same with the ‘arts or sciences’ thing - I’m more than happy with arty stuff but science just goes way over my head.

I have great respect for numbers, but I don’t want to hang out with them or anything. I’m letters, all the way.

Wurds. Fer sure. Well, to answer the question, “letters”.

Seriously, though, I’m an English major. Numbers aren’t bad, they’re just…not nearly as fun as words (large positive numbers in my savings account exempted).

There’s a difference? This is news to me. In my line of work, you treat the two exactly the same way: as symbols to be manipulated according to a set of rules. I’m a physics graduate student, so every day I stare down equations as long as your arm until they whimper and obey. Those equations are primarily filled with letters, and not all English, either. Also, some of the Dopers on these boards may recognize that I have a knack for puns.

It’s all symbol manipulation. Either “25” is equal to both “5[sup]2[/sup]” and “12 + 13”, or the force “F” is equal to both “ma” and “dp/dt”, or the “perch” is both a “fish” and a “place to sit.”

I’m definitely both. At high school, I tended to do better at mathematics, perhaps because the English teacher was so bad. For my first two years of university, I took enough subjects so I could go on to do honours in English or mathematics. At the end of those two years, I won a scholarship in statistics, but turned it down to go on to major in English. But three years after I graduated, I was back studying mathematics, and became a university tutor in mathematics for three years. Then I found my real vocation: librarianship – where knowledge of both sides of scholarship is always useful.