Do number systems in native languages affect math performance?

This blog post said that Asians are good at math because Asian languages have less-confusing number systems:

So if it’s not the schools, what accounts for Asians succeeding in math across different education systems? As English speakers, we may be unaware, but the English language is perhaps the most odd and irrational language around. Particularly with numbers, in English, after ten the teens each have an unique name and each tenth following that gets their own name. In fact, one would need to learn 28 unique words to count up to 100 in English while in any Chinese dialect, Japanese, or Korean, one only needs to learn 11 – one through ten and one hundred.

In Asian languages like Chinese, numbers after ten follow a precise logic. Eleven in Mandarin is shi yi or ten-one, twelve is ten-two, thirteen is ten-three, and so forth. When we get to fifty-nine, the logic continues, five-ten-nine. Five tens and a nine, 59. The internal logic in counting numbers with Asian languages results in kids who speak Asian languages are able to count beyond a hundred before English speakers can even count to 40. But the Asian language advantage doesn’t stop in counting. Remember those dreaded fractions? In English we would read 3/4 as three-fourths. But for languages like Chinese, 3/4 is literally translated, “out of 4 parts, take 3″.

and I also found "Why Jews are good at math", which also mentioned the decimal system in Hebrew.

This problem has further raised my attention after I saw some articles about why many adults are confused over English grammar, due to the "its" vs. "it's" and "their" vs. "they're" distinctions, plus articles about how language reforms affect literacy rates so I am thinking that less confusing language rules leads to better learning.

So do simpler, less-confusing number systems in their native languages give them advantages over learning math?

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So French should be absolutely horrible at math, right? ;) Jokes aside, nice question, +1! – nico Feb 4 '12 at 9:40
Well, English has 28 unique words to count up to 100, Hindi has exactly one hundred! No wonder children, even in Hindi speaking belt of India, are taught English numbers almost exclusively now-a-days. – Vaibhav Garg Feb 4 '12 at 11:28
I like how Asians are supposed to be good at maths (even if they are taught maths in English) because English has 28 words to learn. But Jews (even if they are taught maths in English) are good in spite of the fact that they have 27 digits to learn (plus special cases for 15 and 16). – Oddthinking Feb 4 '12 at 12:00
@nico - I don't think questions like that address the tails of talent distribution – DVK Feb 4 '12 at 16:47
@DVK: mine was just a jestful remark – nico Feb 4 '12 at 18:23
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