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What language did sophie germain and gauss communicate in

  1. Nov 1, 2012 #1
    We all know Gauss (German) but few know Sophie Germain (French). She made some contributions to Fermat's Last Theorem. She corresponded with Gauss keeping her gender secret for a while though the two never met. Does anyone know what language they communicated in? Probably French.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    The choices are Latin, German, and French - sure.
    It was common for educated people to be multi-lingual in those times and it still common in (but not restricted to) Europe today. Since she was contacting him, politeness would indicate either Latin of German wouldn't it?

    Why does it matter?
  4. Nov 3, 2012 #3


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    Google gives

    "she wrote to Gauss on 12th May 1819: “de vous faire le remerciemens que je vous dois et ausside vous communiquer les recherches qui m’ont occupées depuis l’époque a la quelle j’ai en l’honneur de vous écrire. Quoique j’ai travaillé pendant quelque tems à la théorie des surfaces vibrantes… je n’ai jamais cessé de penser a la théorie des nombres”."
  5. Nov 3, 2012 #4


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    Dearly Missed

    I thought I was fluent in early 19th century German, me having read Hegel in the original. :frown:
    But then again, he was a philosopher, not a mathematician. :smile:
  6. Nov 3, 2012 #5

    Simon Bridge

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    @atyy: good find!
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