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I'd like to read several papers which I find interesting, but they are all in French. I have no problem with taking a traditional French class or learning it via some other method. However, I realize that I will probably not be introduced to a lot of mathematically-oriented vocabulary. Does anyone know of a good reference for this material?

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The mathematical words are usually the easy bit. Kai Wen Lan has a glossary that might help. –  Dylan Moreland Dec 5 '11 at 17:55
The first year of college French is, I think, the way to go. Next, maybe, get a French text on a mathematical subject you already know, and go through it. –  GEdgar Dec 5 '11 at 18:54
I think that's what I'll end up doing GEdgar, thanks! Also thank you Dylan, that sort of glossary was almost exactly what I was looking for. –  Forest Belton Dec 6 '11 at 18:15
For some reason the French like to denote an open interval by $]a,b[$ instead of $(a,b)$ and they put a lot of space between an equation and any grammatical punctuation. Probability distributions are still called "lois" in French, which comes across as somewhat quaint and old-fashioned in English. Read some of the papers at numdam.org just to get a feel for the language. –  JL344 Jul 6 '12 at 1:49
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The mathematical vocabulary in French is not usually much of a problem: the words tend to be either slight spelling variations of the English words (vecteur, mesurable, isomorphe...) or translations of the corresponding non-mathematical terms (ensemble = set, suite = sequence, carré = square...). There are a few tricky things to watch out for, e.g. under the influence of Bourbaki, in France $0$ is considered to be positive.

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That being said, Bourbaki French is very easy to read as French. I found it almost like reading English with French vocabulary. I also found Serre easy to read, as well as Samuel (Theorie Algebriques des Nombres). I heard there is a considerable backlash in some circles in France against the overdue influence of other languages on French, and I could not help but think of how "Anglicanized" the French of some of my favorite authors was. In direct contrast is Grothendieck ("Sur quelques points d'Algebre Homologique") which I found almost incomprehensible. –  Chris Leary Dec 5 '11 at 19:39
I like the formula "like reading English with French vocabulary" ... –  Georges Elencwajg Dec 5 '11 at 20:52
@Robert, thank you. I was unsure how much variance existed in contrast with English. I've read Bourbaki's Algebra I, so maybe I will see if I can locate a French copy and read through it per Chris' suggestion. –  Forest Belton Dec 6 '11 at 18:19
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My technique has always been to keep a window open with google translate to look up the nouns i didn't know. It's not fool proof (there are some french mathematical terms that simply don't have a good translation), but it got me through a dozen or so papers for my Master's research.

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