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    Re: Free online CelNav course
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2010 Nov 7, 10:20 +1100
     Gary LaPook wrote:

    (As an aside, why do the Brits use the term "maths" for mathicatics while Americans use simply "math." The guy who put up this course used "maths.")

    According to Steven Schwartzman in his book 'The Words of Mathematics', published by the Mathematical Association of America:
    "Latin mathematica was a plural noun, which is why 'mathematics' has an -s at the end even though we [Schwartzman meaning, presumably, we North Americans] use it as a singular noun. Latin had taken the word from Greek mathematikos, which in turn was based on mathesis. That word, which was also borrowed into English but is now archaic, meant "mental discipline" or "learning," especially mathematical learning. The Indo-European root is mendh- 'to learn'. Plato believed no one could be considered educated without learning mathematics."

    For a long, long time education in the UK, and especially in England where nearly all the higher institutions of learning were located, meant proficiency in Latin, and to a lesser extent in Greek.  Ancient Greek, of course.  Generations of young men would go off to Oxford and Cambridge to "read" the classics in order to come back to London perfectly well equipped to run the empire.

    A bizarre concept of education to our modern minds, but it worked.  Kind of.  Anyhow, one result of their acquired knowledge of these archaic languages is that these chaps were forever sticklers for the finer points of, for example, plurality, in English words derived from Latin and Greek.

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