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What language should i learn

  1. Jun 24, 2007 #1
    I'm transferring from at two year school to a four year school to get my bachelors in math. In order to get the degree, I need to take a language other than english. Does anyone have any input as to what language would be best to learn as far as mathematics go. I was thinking probably german, due to the large number of great mathematicians that came out of gottingen.
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  3. Jun 24, 2007 #2


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    German or French.
  4. Jun 24, 2007 #3
    How about sign language? It's fun to learn.
  5. Jun 24, 2007 #4
    Most people who have oil in the world speak arabic or spanish, and subsequently I have been learning spansih for the last 8 years, with no help from jack daniels. Learn what interest you and consider as well may bemore pertinent toward the possible career path you choose.
  6. Jun 24, 2007 #5
    I would recommend french , No real reason I can think of.
    But I'm telling you it's fun to learn physics and math in french(I'm doing so right now since I live in francophone country..)
    No but for real, I think the 2 major languages in science are french and English, it would be good to know both..
  7. Jun 24, 2007 #6
    For math, maybe French, but I'm not sure. I somehow doubt that you'll run out of English language math literature.

    In general, German might be good. German is the second most common language on the internet. There must be something out there worth reading(i.e. www.physiksforums.de :tongue:)

    Depending on where you live, Spanish might be the easiest to learn. I say this because access to Spanish language TV and radio, and exposure to Spanish might be helpful.

    On the other hand there are already a lot of English/Spanish speakers here, so if you want something more business savvy, consider something with less supply such as Mandarin.

    Do you actually intend to become fluent in this language? Will you be overseas? If you are just going take a few semester of this language and no more, then I'd suggest studying what ever you have the most interest in.

    Don't take my comments too seriously. I can count to 9 in at least three languages and sometimes I think a loud.
  8. Jun 24, 2007 #7

    matt grime

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    Seeing as you asked about mathematics, and no one bothers to have addressed that aspect, here goes:

    dont' bother learning French for mathematics, assuming you have a basic competency in French already. Plenty of maths is written in French, but it is quite easy to read. German could be a choice, though I can't think of ever having to need it. Italian might be a good option if you're interested in geometry (Procesi for example). Russian might have been useful a few years ago, but not really these days (there was a huge exodus of Russians a decade ago).

    Of course that is assuming that you want to read maths in that language, if you want to speak to mathematicians in their own language, then actually learning French or Russian might be a good idea indeed.
  9. Jun 24, 2007 #8
    thanks for the suggestions guys. i was kind of leaning toward french already (as i already took a few years of it in high school). my end goal is a doctorate in math, and i looked at the program at one of the schools where i would consider going to. they said that it is necessary to show a proficiency in a language other than english. i'm not sure what they consider proficient, but personally i'd like to know another language well.
  10. Jun 24, 2007 #9


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    I would recommend French, German, Spanish and or Russian. I studied Spanish in High School, German in High School and University, and a little bit of French and Russian afterward. I've had to read all 4 languages in the work I do.
  11. Jun 24, 2007 #10
    I took Japanese. Fascinating (and challenging) language, although obviously not as useful as the aforementioned choices.
  12. Jun 25, 2007 #11


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    Dutch -- for the challenge :biggrin:
  13. Jun 25, 2007 #12

    matt grime

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    When I did this my high-school level A in French was sufficient for an automatic pass in the other language, but some schools are more particular. The test may well just consist of being given a mathematics paper, and being asked to translate it with the aid of a dictionary. Ask around various grad students and see what they had to do. Mathematically you don't need to learn much French - I can read papers in French and I haven't spoken the language for 13 years. German is a lot harder from my little exposure to it. I would suggest this is down to most terms in large chunks of mathematics being essentially French anyway.
  14. Jun 28, 2007 #13
    You should try Chinese. I promise there must be at least one chinese faculty in any university. Their community will just grow bigger and bigger. Russian and German are very useful too.
  15. Jun 28, 2007 #14


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    Chinese seems the obvious answer due to the rapid growth of their economy, but most of them want to learn English -- I know a lot of people who have gone out there to teach English, without any English qualification of their own apart from being English :biggrin:.

    There is no real answer to what language should I learn.

    I know a bit of Dutch now but only because I live in Holland -- I wouldn't have considered it otherwise. Likewise, I know French from school.

    If anything, learn a language because you live in that country, otherwise learn it for fun.
  16. Jun 28, 2007 #15
    NONE, but English. This is not the reason why you should learn French or German. Besides, and i mean no disrespect, but if some American says he/she learnt some French in high school or took some tests, i would really like to hear "that level of knowledge". I am almost certain those people know nothing about French and they are not able to speak it properly. They would certainly NOT be able to read a French paper, whatever the topic may be.

  17. Jun 28, 2007 #16
    Ive been in german for just over 4months. I can speak in german conversations etc. But I still struggle to read the news paper etc. It takes alot of work to learn another language. I mean the amount of words you will need to learn for one page of a book and the heap more you will have to learn for the next and then the grammar on top. Thats alot.
  18. Jun 28, 2007 #17


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    Formal written German like you find in newspapers and scientific articles poses its own special problems because of the long and complicated sentences. Sometimes you have to go on an expedition to find the subject of a sentence before you can make sense of it. Mark Twain would have sympathized with you. :biggrin:

    The Awful German Language
  19. Jun 28, 2007 #18
    Danke Schön. looks interesting.

    But Im losing my english. As you can see.
  20. Jun 28, 2007 #19


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    always learn the language that will get you invited places you most want to go, e.g. italy.
  21. Jun 30, 2007 #20
    i don't know why but i'd say german. (probably because i have a vague idea that it would be nice to learn and i already know french ^^) but german sort of appeals to me wanting to have everything neat and organized and i would assume that someone who is a geek like i am would also like to keep things neat and organized (like E=mc^2) :)
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