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Are a lot of you math and science types poor at english

  1. Oct 15, 2009 #1
    ok, let me first say this is a genuine question that is not meant to offend anyone. i notice that a lot of you posters who excel in math and sciences and all of that hard stuff, make numerous grammar mistakes. the poster who has frylock as his avatar regularly uses the word you're when your is most appropriate. i am not a grammar Nazi by any means. this is especially true, since although i am exemplary at english i cant type for ****. however i cant fathom how someone can be so brilliant at physics, and not understand basic english concepts. unless the posters on this board are not native to the english language, which in that case kudos for being decent at it, as your second language.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2009 #2


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    The post's topic title taken as a question: NO.
  4. Oct 15, 2009 #3
    I always thought that many scientists and math types were poor at english because many scientists come from countries where english is not the primary language.
  5. Oct 15, 2009 #4
    No. This is an example of a self-serving rumor espoused by lib arts majors in a 'I can't tell an atom from my *** but at least I can wax poetic!' way. The idea is that people are good at only one or the other is a fallacy. I can write papers, spell correctly, and I would classify my English as above-average. I am also a scientist, so clearly I'm neither a hack science student nor a gibbering moron who can't string a sentence together. In short; no.
  6. Oct 15, 2009 #5
    When people post on here, I would assume most try to be short and to the point and as long as the point gets across, grammar is not too terribly important.
  7. Oct 15, 2009 #6


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    I have no statistics to back this up, but I suspect something like a third of all the people who post here have English as a second language (I'm one of them).
    That said, I think you´ll find that quite a few of us are better than the "average" native speaker at writing "scientific" text, i.e. explaining scientific concepts etc because we are used to that from reading textbooks, papers, talking to colleagues etc. Nowadays I rarely make mistakes when for example writing papers and proposals. However, if you were to read one of my post in the General Forum I am sure you'd find plenty of mistakes.

    But of course I still make mistakes sometimes, regardless of what language I am using (I have a bad habit of skipping whole words).

    Also, I did spot quite a few misstakes in your post....
  8. Oct 15, 2009 #7
    You're making the assumption that people who type poorly don't understand English well enough to do it properly, but one does not necessarily logically follow from the other. Some people (myself included), simply couldn't care less about using proper English. My opinion is that if my message was understood, then I did good enough. I use a modicum more effort when talking to strangers, but if I am talking to a friend I have no qualms typing like "u r dum, lets get sum foodz" (if for no reason other than I think the idea that the smart kid types like a 7 year old absolutely hilarious). I know proper English quite well (English major friends ask me to edit their papers on occasion!), but I choose not to use it for my own amusement.
  9. Oct 15, 2009 #8


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    ee cummings!

    Welcome to the forums.

    I find it amusing that someone who is finding fault with the usage of English, cannot write correct English!
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2009
  10. Oct 15, 2009 #9
    I was going to add to this debate, but apparently now it would be like beating a dead horse.
  11. Oct 15, 2009 #10


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    He's got an excellent point. Why are you throwing stones from a glass house? (Not to put too fine a point on it but, technically, your post actually violates forum guidelines requiring attention to punctuation.)
  12. Oct 15, 2009 #11
    well i did say i wasnt one to talk since i dont type as fluently as i should.
  13. Oct 15, 2009 #12
    if you go on any other online forum you will find that the standard of english is lower.
  14. Oct 15, 2009 #13
    Yes. I can't play the sports too or talk at women because I'm too much of a math type. Now I have to go, go get back to my equations now.
  15. Oct 15, 2009 #14


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    mhm. You claim to be examplary at English yet don't seem to be able to adhere to the same "basic English concepts" that you expect of others.

    It sounds like you're just trying to start a kerfuffle.

    I'm callin' troll.
  16. Oct 15, 2009 #15
    how am i troll? i asked a simple question. relax.... just because the question can be viewed of as less than flattering you call troll, and insult me. there's a difference between not grasping the english language and not typing properly.

    you can call troll? if that makes you feel better about yourself...but im just a guy who is fascinated by people who excel in math and science, and that's why i visit forums like these.

    also, math and english use opposite sides of the brain, so it is a perfectly legitimate question.
  17. Oct 15, 2009 #16
    Do you actually know what you're talking about or do you just hear diluted, second-hand versions of theories and try to pass them off as fact? What, is one half of my brain going to grow to monster proportions as the other atrophies because I chose to specialize in physics over philosophy? Are you aware the the theory you're championing is outdated and regarded as far too simplistic to have much meaning at all? Probably not.

    'Math and science types' as well as 'English types' both have had the same education through the end of high school, generally. This is usually some mix of science, math, literature, foreign languages, and what have you. So coming out of high school, both theoretically have exactly the same skills in English. Because this is the above the level of English that most people speak and communicate with on a normal basis, how can someone who specialized later on be poor at English? Unless you think their English skills fell out of their ears because of the dearth of equations and numbers crammed into their heads.

    Furthermore, intelligence is not a zero-sum game. Because someone's good at English doesn't make them poor at math, any more than someone good at chemistry naturally sucks at painting. It's a bad question and a bit insulting, asking generally educated people if they suck at communicating in their native language. I don't think this young man is a troll, perhaps just a bit naive. At any rate, I'm off. Toodles!
  18. Oct 15, 2009 #17


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    It has nothing to do with insults. You are trying to hold other people to a higher standard than you hold yourself. That doesn't make sense. Especially since you've labelled the standard "basic English concepts".
  19. Oct 15, 2009 #18


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    Hi sportstar...let me tell something I experienced that is related to this.

    When I was a little kid, my strength was in words...I read early, and I had an impressive vocabulary at an early age.

    Yet I always liked science, even though I fought with the math. When I was in college, I studied chemistry and physics, but I really struggled...especially with physics. The homework just took so long!

    Then I found a different way to think. While I was doing my homework, I would read the problem, in language of course. I would write the pertinent information, then switch into non-language thinking.

    Basically I learned to think without words. Just math. It made getting through homework so fast, it was great!

    But it came with a cost. My language skills went downhill so fast...especially spelling. And explaining how I solved a problem was difficult too. It was so frustrating...I knew exactly what I was trying to say, but it was as if there was no bridge between my thoughts and words.

    I still struggle with these issues - spellcheck is wonderful :smile:.
  20. Oct 15, 2009 #19
    You know, it's funny because I bet most of the people posting in this thread have given an extra spell check before posting than they would have normally.
  21. Oct 16, 2009 #20


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    Just a quick Mentor note. Please avoid the troll accusations here -- I see none so far. Just a legitimate question and some responses, albeit with some ironic errors in the posts that want to emphasize how important good grammar and spell checking are. :tongue2:

    (carefully checking my post multiple times for grammar, punctuation and spelling...)

  22. Oct 16, 2009 #21


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    I would tend to agree with this. However, the main reason is probably that part of the PF rules demand that one structures ones' posts in a grammatically correct manner (note that that also includes capitalisation!):

  23. Oct 16, 2009 #22


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    I think there's a difference between knowing and doing. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who "know" basic grammatical rules, but simply fail to observe them - largely out of bad habits.

    The most unfortunate thing about this is that poor grammar dramatically reduces the efficiency and efficacy of communication. It takes longer for a reader to get through the writer's message, and the meaning can be skewed.

    Personally, I find it offensive when people don't bother to type properly. It's just like someone attaching a little text signature at the bottom of a post that says, "You're not worth me taking the effort to do this properly." And for the record, I don't think this is a second language issue at all.
  24. Oct 16, 2009 #23


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    I really don't have anything useful to add to this discussion, but I do need to mention that I cracked up when I read DaveC426913's signature...

    Great visualization.
  25. Oct 16, 2009 #24
    interesting story. goes to show you that you could be naturally good at something, and not so good at something else, but through focusing on what youre weak at, you can build your weakness to far surpass your current strengths!
    yeah it was pretty ironic i suppose ;)
    yeah i wouldnt expect a forum on dirtbikes to have as high of a standard as an academic forum, regardless of whether it is science, math or the arts.

    But the point of this thread has nothing to do with how people type online. i was just asking if some of you struggled more with grammar than physics, based on some of the common mistakes i found in some of your posts. someone conjure up the same question about me also after seeing some of my mistyped paragraphs as well
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  26. Oct 16, 2009 #25
    I don't know where that stereotype comes from. I've always been good with languages.
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