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Different Differences: Metaphorical Interpretations of “Difference” in Integer Addition and Subtraction

Chapter in book
Authors Cecilia Kilhamn
Published in Exploring the Integer Addition and Subtraction Landscape. L. Bofferding & N. Wessman-Enzinger (eds)
Pages 143-166
ISBN 978-3-319-90691-1
Publisher Springer
Place of publication Cham
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Pages 143-166
Language en
Keywords mathematics, integers, difference,
Subject categories Mathematics


Mathematically speaking, a difference is the result of a subtraction. However, when the number domain is extended from natural numbers to integers, the separation of the magnitude of a number from its value creates “different differ-ences,” where the connection to subtraction is no longer straightforward. Based on video-recorded lessons and individual student interviews with 21 students in a Swedish year 8 class, a conceptual metaphor analysis of the discourse shows how ambiguous the term difference can be and how an implicit use of metaphors can create confusion in relation to addition and subtraction with integers.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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