9
$\begingroup$

Would it be an advantage for a committed modern day research mathematicians to learn any foreign language? Are there works in Russian, French, or any other foreign language being produced or that have not been translated?

$\endgroup$

closed as primarily opinion-based by Daniel W. Farlow, Mark Fantini, user147263, Hagen von Eitzen, Lee Mosher Apr 4 '15 at 21:39

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ It's going to be an advantage, it can't hurt, but the question is how small. $\endgroup$ – abnry Apr 3 '15 at 23:48
  • 13
    $\begingroup$ Don't assume that everybody here is in the same country. For many of us, languages other than English are not necessarily "foreign". $\endgroup$ – Robert Israel Apr 4 '15 at 0:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I wondered this as well. Now I'm trying to translate a paper in Russian via Google translate. It's not an easy task. $\endgroup$ – Cameron Williams Apr 4 '15 at 1:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would even go so far as to say that Latin could be useful. $\endgroup$ – Robert Soupe Apr 4 '15 at 4:35
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Regarding "being a mathematicians" [sic]: It is a good idea to learn one language (such as English) really well. $\endgroup$ – Jasper Apr 4 '15 at 4:58
12
$\begingroup$

From what I understand, a ton of Alexander Grothendieck's work in algebraic geometry has not been translated from its original French. See, for example, Éléments de Géométrie Algébrique and Fondements de la Géometrie Algébrique.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

Yes, there are many such works. These days, less French than Russian, but still a decent chunk of both.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Do you mind new works, or historical relevant works? Could you point to some concrete examples? (no matter what language) $\endgroup$ – Howard Langtone Apr 3 '15 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Howard Langtone consider Gelfond, Calculus of finite differences (1959). inis.jinr.ru/sl/vol1/UH/_Ready/Mathematics/… It has been translated to English only in 1971 in India. It is the only book where I found criteria of possibility to represent an analytic function as Newton series. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Apr 4 '15 at 0:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Many past works have not been translated. Unlike some fields (like physics or medicine), work from many years ago is still sometimes valuable for the mathematics researcher. $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Apr 4 '15 at 16:07
3
$\begingroup$

Would it be an advantage for a committed modern day research mathematicians to learn any foreign language?

Knowing other languages and cultures (other than your native one) can make one a more interesting person which will certainly help during the job search phase and in general academic life.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

For a lot of algebraic stuff you'll need at least a little French. Note that being good enough at a language to read a math paper with the aid of a dictionary is wildly less than the amount you need to have a conversation, so it's not asking too much for someone to pick up this ability in a few languages. Just sit down and practice through some papers where you're already comfortable with the math (say, a textbook in a subject you know very well) and you will be fine, although it will take some patience and hopefully a friend who speaks the language well.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.