tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post1601081541330015715..comments2022-01-20T00:17:59.313+00:00Comments on Separated by a Common Language: math(s)lynneguisthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10171345732985610861noreply@blogger.comBlogger61125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-29013518701181141572020-08-31T17:29:10.475+01:002020-08-31T17:29:10.475+01:00BrE. Usually it would be maths books.BrE. Usually it would be maths books.Shy-replyhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/01891566073375322808noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-63423791517508191112020-08-24T09:46:59.599+01:002020-08-24T09:46:59.599+01:00Isn't the whole point that neither is in itsel...Isn't the whole point that neither is in itself more correct than the other? "Math" is AmE, "maths" is BrE, so what's incorrect is to claim that someone speaking the other dialect is being incorrect. (Commenting very late to the party!) Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-58558478132038794092018-07-12T17:55:34.302+01:002018-07-12T17:55:34.302+01:00Nothing is more common in US English than to say t...Nothing is more common in US English than to say to a class "Get out your math books. Do the British say "maths books" or something else? Thank you for the interesting and indepth post.Anonymoushttps://www.blogger.com/profile/16969668531170970884noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-50658396747048536902017-04-22T17:01:50.470+01:002017-04-22T17:01:50.470+01:00But 'statistics' is treated as a countable...But 'statistics' is treated as a countable, unlike mathematics. You can have *a* statistic. You can not have a mathematic. And so 'statistics' is shortened to 'stats' and 'statistic' is shortened to 'stat'. Used less often in singular than plural, for sure, because they usually come in bunches. lynneguisthttps://www.blogger.com/profile/10171345732985610861noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-58897418822846181462017-04-22T00:34:27.245+01:002017-04-22T00:34:27.245+01:00It's depressing that only one person has menti...It's depressing that only one person has mentioned the obvious example of 'statistics' being abbreviated to 'stats' as a discipline and never 'stat'.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-89586078531351130822016-11-18T19:34:01.061+00:002016-11-18T19:34:01.061+00:00I find this almost a decade after the article was ...I find this almost a decade after the article was published! Still can't resist putting my oar in, so here's my sixpenn'orth<br /><br />One person mentioned statistics (the field of study - FoS in brief) and telecommunications was dealt with at some length. Something shared by both these is that they have a singular noun, with a different but related meaning, which can be pluralised with an 's'. 'A telecommunication' is the standard formulation in legislation, such as US wiretap laws, and other formal contexts that do not need the means of transmission to be identified, and a statistic needs no explanation. Both these can be and are informally abbreviated (telecom, stat) and both abbreviations can be pluralised (telecoms, stats). Both FoS can also be abbreviated, to 'stats' on both sides of the pond I believe and to telecom/telecoms as discussed above. The non-FoS stat(istic)s and telecom(munication)s can be counted (yes, Lynne), given access to the data. If the US used 'stat' for the FoS that would strongly indicate to me that the BrE 'stats' was formed on an analogy with maths. But from what I can see on line AmE seems to favour stats too. That could be influenced by the sense of plurality, which is why I brought that up - or of course something else.<br /><br />Someone mentioned 'econ', which in London I have only ever heard from Hong Kong Chinese students, who seem to enjoy truncating subject names where possible, as in geog, chem, phys. Doubtless there is wider use that I haven't come across.<br /><br />Most other FoS -ics words - and there are far more than I had imagined - seem not to be abbreviated at all. One that is in BrE is 'dramatics' which, in its amateur form, is universally called 'am dram'. But since the vowel in 'dram' has been changed to rhyme with 'am' this is probably an example of us Brits' love of rhyming abbreviations (and phrases, such as froffee coffee).<br /><br />I feel that Lynne is right in saying that the usage depends on the form in which a thing became popular, which can differ from place to place, and retrospective rationalisation is futile. Still puzzling to me is why 'math' is so irksome to us Brits, when other differences ('gotten' aside) are accepted or tolerated - I enjoy making my brother apoplectic by saying 'Do the math'!KeithDhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/10451059429340892054noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-21362647918779139652016-06-19T18:33:55.219+01:002016-06-19T18:33:55.219+01:00Very belatedly: for me, leftovers is in no way pl...Very belatedly: for me, <i>leftovers</i> is in no way plurale tantum, but the straightforward plural of <i>leftover</i>. The beans in my refrigerator are a leftover, and when you add them to the rice, you get two leftovers.John Cowanhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/11452247999156925669noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-71092628090896813122014-01-10T01:46:46.604+00:002014-01-10T01:46:46.604+00:00Aninymous
If "mathematics" is the noun ...Aninymous<br /><br /><i>If "mathematics" is the noun formed from an adjective, then why would I never use "mathematic" as an adjective? (I'd use mathematical, as in, "mathematical reasoning"). </i><br /><br />The OED suggests that <i>mathematics</i> was a coinage in European languages based on <i>physics</i> etc, rather than a direct borrowing from Greek. So while the classical Greek word that gave rise to <i>physics</i> was indeed a noun based on an adjective, this is not true of <i>mathematics</i><br /><br /><i>However I would use "arithmetic" as an adjective, as in "arithmetic series".</i><br /><br />This would seem to be a relatively recent thing. The OED quotes:<br /><br />1954 T. W. Chaundy et al. <i>Printing of Math.</i> 64 In changing practice some mathematical terms have shortened. Thus we say ‘convergence’ rather than ‘convergency’; ‘algebraic’, ‘geometric’ generally replace ‘algebraical’,‘geometrical’, and even ‘arithmétic’ (so accented), can be an adjective as in ‘arithmetic mean’.<br /><br />They give examples of adjective <i>arithmetic</i> that are earlier, but this quote seems to signal the start of a more <b>general</b> use.David Crosbiehttps://www.blogger.com/profile/01858358459416955921noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-63579603115356112852014-01-10T01:22:53.289+00:002014-01-10T01:22:53.289+00:00Lynne
but there are a lot of English plurals wit...Lynne<br /><br /><i> but there are a lot of English plurals with no singular--e.g. trousers, scissors, leftovers, entrails</i><br /><br />Except that they do have singular forms for use in premodification:<br /><br /><i>trouser press, scissor grinder, leftover recipe, entrail divination</i>David Crosbiehttps://www.blogger.com/profile/01858358459416955921noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-42516841511497722052014-01-10T01:15:54.460+00:002014-01-10T01:15:54.460+00:00Anonymous
I bet even BrE would shorten it
to eco...Anonymous<br /><br /><i> I bet even BrE would shorten it<br />to econ, as is common in AmE.</i><br /><br />If my experience is anything to go by, you lose your bet.<br /><br /><i>Econ</i> is written for the degree <i>B Econ</i>, and I suppose some people use the abbreviation when speaking. But I don't believe I've ever heard <i>an econ lectuture</i> or <i>the Econ Department</i>.<br /><br />Not that we ever say <i>econs</i>.David Crosbiehttps://www.blogger.com/profile/01858358459416955921noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-77079970154583175122014-01-09T20:24:05.871+00:002014-01-09T20:24:05.871+00:00How about an economics class or department? I bet...How about an economics class or department? I bet even BrE would shorten it<br />to econ, as is common in AmE.<br />Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-64091972766859968612013-10-27T15:32:03.665+00:002013-10-27T15:32:03.665+00:00If "mathematics" is the noun formed from...If "mathematics" is the noun formed from an adjective, then why would I never use "mathematic" as an adjective? (I'd use mathematical, as in, "mathematical reasoning"). However I would use "arithmetic" as an adjective, as in "arithmetic series".Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-21912658104420665452013-09-23T14:19:32.058+01:002013-09-23T14:19:32.058+01:00I also think that it is interesting that, at least... I also think that it is interesting that, at least to Americans born in the 80's and later (I'm not sure about earlier), Math is a countable thing. <br /> For example, I took Algebra, Pre-calculus, and Geometry classes. In each I learned one type of math, and in the year I took Algebra and Geometry at the same time I took two types of maths at once. <br /> When I got to university in the UK I found out me friends had takes A levels in maths or further maths where they learned things as one big lump. For me Math was always a word for a type of class that was separate and distinct from mathematics as the branch of learning that was taught within it. Anonymoushttps://www.blogger.com/profile/16336060898958851975noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-57950769591802558092012-06-27T15:47:44.813+01:002012-06-27T15:47:44.813+01:00That's what I would call post-hoc rationalizat...That's what I would call post-hoc rationalization of the difference. There's a lot of that when people try to come up with reasons for linguistic differences. Usually the reason for the difference is 'it started out this way in this place, and it stuck'.lynneguisthttps://www.blogger.com/profile/10171345732985610861noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-39218690926543442842012-06-27T15:33:23.961+01:002012-06-27T15:33:23.961+01:00Re: math/maths. I admit to not being anywhere nea...Re: math/maths. I admit to not being anywhere near as schooled in the linguistic art as you, but if I might offer my ignorant insight, I've been taught to use maths vice math depending on context under the perhaps incorrect instruction that math may generally mean and be interchangeable for arithmetic, however there is more to mathematics than conducting a simple commerce in arithmetic, and mathematics is a shorthand for the various branches of mathematics, whereas math in the singular is really a short version of 'the branch of mathematics involving counting / arithmetic'.Henry Higgins Fnordhttp://www.fark.comnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-2257951546264252122011-10-23T00:25:03.207+01:002011-10-23T00:25:03.207+01:00"You do the arithmetic" would be a perfe..."You do the arithmetic" would be a perfectly good compromise between the two and would probably more accurately convey what one was attempting to say. My understanding is that "arithmetic" is the actual operation while "Mathematics" is the theoretical science involved. "Connect the dots" is another way of saying the same idea.Vincenoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-1978320556094868192011-08-05T02:14:50.555+01:002011-08-05T02:14:50.555+01:00Indeed, I wrote a post on diminutive -s back here....Indeed, I wrote a post on diminutive -s back <a href="http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/2006/07/nicknames-clippings-zza.html" rel="nofollow">here</a>.lynneguisthttps://www.blogger.com/profile/10171345732985610861noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-6497244188850032432011-08-04T22:08:18.037+01:002011-08-04T22:08:18.037+01:00Lynn,
A side thought, but one I've had often...Lynn, <br /><br />A side thought, but one I've had often. English always seems to me a developed creole, its grammar remarkably simplified by its mixing with French, so that it doesn't have declensions or much conjugation of verbs or much of anything to mark the forms of words. Even plurals are sometimes indistinguishable from the singular forms of words. <br /><br />All of that is preface.<br /><br />But the one thing that usually marks a word is what? A terminal s. Nothing else. It shows our plurals, does most of the work of conjugation for us, does the other marking you've pointed out. And I think it does one more thing.<br /><br />It is used at the end of names. I used to interpret that what it did was mark the vocative case. Because we would use the work Jacks (for Jackie) and Neens (for Nini) for my sisters' names, but usually only when we spoke to them directly. I've run across enough examples now that I think it really only marks names and is meant as the marker of a diminutive or familiar form of a name. So it demonstrates one's closeness to or affection for someone.<br /><br />If you have any thoughts on this, I'd be happy to hear them. I'm not a linguist, just a desultory thinking on language.<br /><br />GeofGeofhuthhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/04763053227479195348noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-35267064310114808512011-07-28T15:25:14.454+01:002011-07-28T15:25:14.454+01:00Various thoughts:
1) My concise OED gives mathemat...Various thoughts:<br />1) My concise OED gives mathematics as a plural noun without any alternative possibility.<br />2)I think here the French language can shed an interesting light on the discussion.(Full disclosure: I confess to my sins, I'm French).<br />-Because French has different forms of the definite article for the singular (le/la) and the plural (les), there is almost never any question/doubt about the number of the noun for mathematics.<br />- In French the discipline taught in every school is "les mathématiques" (plural). It is commonly abreviated into les "maths" (definitely plural too).<br />- The noun "mathématique" can be used in the singular (rarely) as a synonym of the plural form or to refer to a rigorous deductive reasoning.<br />- When the singular-as-synonym-of-the-plural is used, it is either in an affectedly archaic manner or (mainly) by modern mathematicians to emphasise the fact that applying a deductive method of reasoning to abstract objects whatever the objects are (numbers, shapes, groups of numbers, etc) is a single discipline as opposed to the idea held by the ancients that calculus, geometry, algebra, etc, were distinct sciences collectively qualified as "mathematical".<br />For details http://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/math%C3%A9matique<br />- This ancient way of thinking about different areas of maths is the reason (IMO) why, while most other subjects and disciplines are singular in French, maths isn't, in the common use. linguistics=linguistique, physics=physique, etc.<br />- You will tell me, and you'd be right, that the fact the French do so doesn't mean it is a rule universally acknowledged. But a lot of words in the English language come from Latin via French or directly from French. So I'd bet let's say not a kidney but definitely a toe that for some time around and after the time the word mathematics appeared in English, a French influence could be felt.<br />3) Even if we dismiss the French-as-font-of-all-truth hypothesis as too tainted by misplaced patriotism, isn't it possible that the reason why the word mathematics resists the process which saw other subject substantives evolve from plural to singular, like physics or linguistics, (I am going here for the originally plural because of the influence of Greek and Latin's collective/neuter plural science names hypothesis here) is that this ancient idea of different mathematical fields has been there from the beginning in English and endures to this day?<br />4) Is it possible that "math" without an s, while being plural all along, isn't a misspelling: as an abreviation, it might not have to show the s at the end? I am not an English native speaker, so it's just an idea...<br />5) Oh dear! This is a looong post and, no doubt, badly written. Sorry.Froggiehttp://myperfidealbionhome.over-blog.com/noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-66927356677127958782011-06-08T13:56:57.590+01:002011-06-08T13:56:57.590+01:00Nice thought re logic of singular/plural, but ther...Nice thought re logic of singular/plural, but there are a lot of English plurals with no singular--e.g. trousers, scissors, leftovers, entrails, ... They're called pluralia tantum. <br /><br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plurale_tantum<br /><br />(The rest of the argument works, though!)lynneguisthttps://www.blogger.com/profile/10171345732985610861noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-56585271246337218842011-06-08T03:33:30.717+01:002011-06-08T03:33:30.717+01:00The lack of the noun 'mathematic' should b...The lack of the noun 'mathematic' should be enough to show that the word 'mathematics' is not a plural noun. Instead, 'mathematics' (as a noun) should be thought of as logically equivalent to the phrase "the study of mathematics" for which a given verb would be conjugated according to the singular noun 'study'. Therefore, we should use the verb "is" with the subject noun 'mathematics'. In the words of Einstein, "Mathematics is the poetry of logical ideas."Charityhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/15006101099434962094noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-49121993453427728172010-12-22T17:29:53.086+00:002010-12-22T17:29:53.086+00:00I love this line: "Mathematics doesn't wo...I love this line: "Mathematics doesn't work with numbers". Don't repeat that to a mathematician without the context! <br /><br />I also love the post, even though it shows I'm "wrong" to say maths.Steve Mouldhttp://blog.stevemould.comnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-88197907569566444032010-12-22T11:15:25.060+00:002010-12-22T11:15:25.060+00:00Interesting post.
I thought we thought it was pl...Interesting post. <br /><br />I thought we thought it was plural become it comes from the Greek mathēmatiká through the Latin mathematica, but this is very far outside of my expertise!<br /><br />On the use of maths as a plural, a commenter to <a href="http://travelsinamathematicalworld.blogspot.com/2010/12/mathmaths-in-google-books-ngrams.html" rel="nofollow">my blog post on the subject</a> pointed out that the early use I found through Google Books (two examples from 1916) used it as a plural: "these beastly maths" and "aren't maths beautiful?" (links in <a href="http://travelsinamathematicalworld.blogspot.com/2010/12/mathmaths-in-google-books-ngrams.html" rel="nofollow">my blog post</a>). To my mind these sound wrong, but a search for "maths is" found its first hits in the late 1930s, even though a previous comment here points out early examples of "mathematics" being used as both plural and singular. (Not that Google Books is a comprehensive or reliable way to search these things.)<br /><br />On similar forms, a commenter on my post pointed out that American English seems to have no use of "stat" for "statistics", preferring, as British English does, to use "stats". Mind you, "statistic" is used as the singular in the way "mathematic" isn't. <br /><br />On the lack of a "mathematic" singular, I'm interested that apparently the French les mathématiques has a singular form la mathématique.Peter Rowletthttps://www.blogger.com/profile/05352923128514059385noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-17516968479009292862009-12-31T08:46:40.061+00:002009-12-31T08:46:40.061+00:00@Boris.
Yes. You're wrong.@Boris.<br /><br />Yes. You're wrong.vphttps://www.blogger.com/profile/16647609487352038948noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28787909.post-68387059821127204052009-12-28T17:35:19.993+00:002009-12-28T17:35:19.993+00:00Am I wrong in saying that "math" and &qu...Am I wrong in saying that "math" and "maths" sound almost identical when pronounced? If so, could this be what reinforces the continued difference in spelling? Each person hears whatever he or she thought the spelling was.Boris Zakharinhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/16560756640621720539noreply@blogger.com