A recent study in Europe has found that language has an effect on both verbal and nonverbal number processing in first-graders. The researchers looked at number comprehension in children who spoke German, Italian or Czech, and found that differences in how the language handles placeholders had a significant effect on how well the children comprehended two-digit numbers. Their conclusion:
The data corroborate a weak Whorfian hypothesis in children, with even nonverbal Arabic number processing seeming to be influenced by linguistic properties in children.The more linguists study language in real-life settings, the more they achieve these kinds of results. Many recent studies have found similar results, and headlines often grudgingly acknowledge the earlier discoveries. The mention of Whorf in a research, rather than amounting to an academic kiss of death, now indicates a modern, forward thinking study. How nice.