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Math Help - Why not mathematicist?

  1. #1
    Member aldrincabrera's Avatar
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    Cool Why not mathematicist?

    Hello there, just having a playful argument with a friend on the question " Why are mathematicians called mathematicians and not mathematicists?"
    He said because of the "ics" like statistician (from statistics) but i broke his argument by giving physicist(physics) as an example. Now, we really don't know what the answer is.. Any ideas??
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  3. #3
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    Re: Why not mathematicist?

    Quote Originally Posted by aldrincabrera View Post
    Hello there, just having a playful argument with a friend on the question " Why are mathematicians called mathematicians and not mathematicists?"
    He said because of the "ics" like statistician (from statistics) but i broke his argument by giving physicist(physics) as an example. Now, we really don't know what the answer is.. Any ideas??
    This might be of interest to you.

    mathematician early 15c, middle French.
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    Re: Why not mathematicist?

    Interesting. Both the words 'mathematics' and 'physics' derive from Greek-- μάθημα and φύσις respectively.

    My guess (I don't actually know) is that the modern word for one who studies mathematics comes from the French--mathématicien-- and is therefore 'mathematician' and not mathematicist.
    'Physicist', on the other hand, must derive from a different language, probably greek or latin, as the French word for 'physicist' is 'physicien', meaning that if the English word had, like mathematician, come from the French, it would be 'physician', which in English is a word with a totally different meaning! (physician in French is just médecin, which, as far as I'm aware, is the same word they use for doctor)

    Maybe someone who knows a bit more can clarify.
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    Re: Why not mathematicist?

    Quote Originally Posted by pomp View Post
    Interesting. Both the words 'mathematics' and 'physics' derive from Greek-- μάθημα and φύσις respectively.

    My guess (I don't actually know) is that the modern word for one who studies mathematics comes from the French--mathématicien-- and is therefore 'mathematician' and not mathematicist.
    'Physicist', on the other hand, must derive from a different language, probably greek or latin, as the French word for 'physicist' is 'physicien', meaning that if the English word had, like mathematician, come from the French, it would be 'physician', which in English is a word with a totally different meaning! (physician in French is just médecin, which, as far as I'm aware, is the same word they use for doctor)

    Maybe someone who knows a bit more can clarify.
    I would say it should be "mathematicist" because that's the way we do it when talking about Physics.



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    Re: Why not mathematicist?

    Quote Originally Posted by topsquark View Post
    I would say it should be "mathematicist" because that's the way we do it when talking about Physics.
    I hope that is a joke. I don't know many serious mathematicians who talk about physics since 1960.
    But that is a truly good book Turing's Cathedral by George Dyson. (Yes George Dyson is Freeman's son.)
    Of course, prior to 1965 that there was great interaction.
    The book is a great read about the founding of the Advanced Studies in Princeton.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Why not mathematicist?

    I don't think topsquark was referring to "mathematicians talking about physics". Rather, he was, I believe, saying that when we are talking about people who work in physics we say "physicist' so when we are talking about mathematicians why not say "mathematicist". That reminds me of the John Wayne movie, 'The Shootist". In any case, I think pomp and Plato have it right.

    We do, by the way, say "algebraist" probably because "algebraician" would sound silly!
    Last edited by HallsofIvy; September 10th 2012 at 04:44 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Why not mathematicist?

    Thanks guys,.,
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