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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??
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.
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.
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!