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A Quotation Again

  1. Dec 9, 2009 #1
    Carl Friedrich Gauss is known as the "prince of mathematicians" in mathematics literature. But I think something is not right with this quotation from him.
    "Mathematics is the Queen of the Sciences".

    Is maths gender female?
    Is maths a science?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2009 #2


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    In some languages (and Gauss spoke all of them, they say), nouns are in fact associated with a gender. In french for instance, "Science" is "feminine".
  4. Dec 10, 2009 #3


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    And saying that "Mathematics is the Queen of Sciences" does not necessarily mean mathematics is itself a science! It is not at all uncommon for the queen, or even king, of a country to be from another country.
  5. Dec 10, 2009 #4


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    It may also be a word by word translation from German where both <mathematics> and <queen> are feminine when it comes to noun's gender.
  6. Dec 10, 2009 #5
    Yeah, probably a language thing as far as the gender goes. i.e. In Spanish, Mathematics is "La Matematica". 'La' implies feminine.
  7. Dec 10, 2009 #6
    In my language (Malay) we usually don't give a gender for non human subject. So when I saw the word by word translation of that quotation, I was wondering why the word 'queen' is there. But it seem not a problem in other languages.

    My understanding from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematics" [Broken], what Gauss meant by 'science' here is knowledge not the usual science that we know. Can I just interprete what Gauss said as "Mathematics is the pinnacle of knowledge" or something simailar (please do correct me) so that I can translate the quotation correctly to my language.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Dec 10, 2009 #7
    Rather than that, you should ask yourself why they call the "prince of mathematics". In my opinion, he is largely overrated. He might have been a mathematician of the first rank, but with his reluctance to publish he did not serve the cause as much as other mathematicians did. I suspect his so called greatness to be some kind of Anglo-German exaggeration, but that's another story.
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