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What languages would you suggest for Biology (beyond English)?

  1. Feb 6, 2017 #1
    Hi! I'm a new member to this site. :smile: I hope this is the right place to ask for opinions on which language to learn for science purposes. I want to become a research molecular biologist working in the field of genetics. I am comfortable in English currently. I've also started learning Spanish, but I’m wondering what other languages should I study next? Comments are welcome!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2017 #2
    From a numbers point of view, Chinese is the most commonly spoken language. However, in the field of your interest, Switzerland has the highest impact.
    Screenshot_2017-02-06-21-14-22.png
     
  4. Feb 6, 2017 #3

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    What is this table saying? Without any information about what the columns represent, this table is useless.

    And puzzling, as well. In the first row is "6,65" which seems to be a typo.
     
  5. Feb 7, 2017 #4

    Student100

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    Latin.
     
  6. Feb 7, 2017 #5

    analogdesign

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    I don't mean to be flip, but I would think for Biology the best second language (after English) would be Python.
     
  7. Feb 7, 2017 #6
    The laws of nature are written in the language of mathematics.

    -written-in-the-language-of-mathematics-the-symbols-are-triangles-circles-galileo-galilei-343034.jpg
     
  8. Feb 7, 2017 #7

    Student100

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    Any computer language would be better than Spanish or whatever. My suggestion of Latin should really be seen as tounge-in-cheek.

    Most academia communication is in English. If you want to be a field biologist down in Argentina then Spanish might help your quality of life. If you want to be a doctor working in Syria or something then learn Arabic/Turkish or whatever for the same reason. None are actually useful for earning a biology degree at university, except for the degree requirement.

    One year of university study also isn't going to get you very far, good non-native speakers generally spend multiple years of full immersion to obtain proficiency.

    But learn some Latin, then read some Circero. Then learn some Greek. You might get lucky and recognize a root or two on an exam. :DD
     
  9. Feb 7, 2017 #8

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    Latin might have been suggested tongue-in-cheek (not tounge), but that's actually not a bad idea for someone who wants to study biology. Most of the scientific names of plant and animals are made up of Latin words. For example, in botany, red-flowering currant is Ribes sanguineum. I don't know the etymology of the genus, Ribes, but I suppose it means gooseberry or currant, as the Ribes genus includes those kinds of berries. The species name, sanguineum, part has to do with blood, and the berres are blood-red in color.

    The genus name Quercus, is the genus of oaks, and I believe the English word "cork" is derived from this Latin word.

    Other examples of flowers and plants that grow near where I live:
    Trefoil foamflower - Tiarella trifoliata -- "small tiara" and "three-leaved"
    Elephant's head - Pedicularis groenlandica -- Pediculosis is "infestation by lice" Elephant's head is also called "Elephant's head lousewort." Long ago, the plant was believed to cause lice infestation when ingested by stock animals. The "groenlandica" species name suggests that it was first identified in Greenland.
    Rhododendron -- an odd combination of Greek rhodos (red) and Latin tree (dendron).
    Bleeding heart -- Dicentra formosa -- another mix of Greek and Latin. Dicentra (Greek dis -- two, kentron -- spur) formosa (Latin -- beautiful).

    The same holds for animals:
    Grey wolf - Canis lupus -- Canis (dog) genus, lupus (wolf) species. The English word canine obviously derives from the Latin, and lupus survives in Spanish lobo, French loup, and English lupine, a kind of flower, but also meaning "wolf-like"
    Homo sapiens - Homo (man) and sapiens (thinking)
    And so on.
     
  10. Feb 7, 2017 #9

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    BTW, I never studied Latin, but I have spent several years studying Spanish, and have put in a little time with Italian and French.
     
  11. Feb 7, 2017 #10

    Student100

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    I spent one term with Italian, and two with latin. You're right, parts of it are useful in biology. I'm just not sure it's worth the time studying the other intricacies of the langauge when you're primarly after vocabulary. In that case, studing the classifications/vocab is probably easier.

    But since it's compulsory latin is as good a choice as any, and would be my first choice. Followed by Greek or something that also has a lot of roots in biology.

    Sorry about typos, been writing messages on the phone.
     
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