déclencher / ponctuer une série

Wodwo

Senior Member
UK English
I am translating a book about philosophy, in which I find the following:

L’éternité n’est plus ce qui déclenche une série, mais ce qui la ponctue, si l’on veut bien maintenir cette comparaison mathématique.


I am not a mathematician, but I have done a bit of research and it seems to me that in mathematical usage a "series" is a number and that perhaps what the author is referring to here is actually a "sequence" (i.e. an unfolding - he's actually talking about time), but I may be wrong.

Either way, my question is, are the terms "déclencher" and "ponctuer" used here in a "specialist" maths way, with specialist maths equivalents in English, or can I just translate them as "launch" and "interrupt", as I was planning to.

If there are specific mathematical terms in English for the start and end of a series / sequence, I would be grateful if someone can tell me what they are.
 
  • Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I see this is a comparison. What other concept is being represented by the math here? I ask because you'll want a term that works for both, I should think.
     

    Wodwo

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The comparison is between the way that time functions and a mathematical sequence. Here's a bit more context (it's the start of a new section in the book):

    La deuxième conception du temps développée dans cet écrit est celle qui place l’éternité au bout de la temporalité. L’éternité n’est plus ce qui déclenche une série, mais ce qui la ponctue, si l’on veut bien maintenir cette comparaison mathématique ; c’est son achèvement pour le dire sans comparaison.

    This is the first reference to maths in the book and it goes no further. To me it seems somewhat spurious, although the author refers to the idea of mathematical series again a bit later on, without going into it in any more depth.

    I need two terms rather than one, for "déclencher" and "ponctuer". Or not. I don't know whether the author has just picked these two verbs of the shelf, or whether they are used by mathematicians to talk about the start and end of a sequence. In the former case I don't have a problem, I will (probably) use "launch" and "interrupt". In the latter case I need to know what the equivalents are in the English of mathematics.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I'd lean toward initiate and punctuate, myself. I'm not thrilled with punctuate in English but I do think it's better than interrupt; you want a word that means to leave occasional and probably periodic marks or signs. Interrupt lacks that idea of repetition, and I'm not convinced with respect to the hard stop feel of it, either, particularly when talking about time.
    (What I meant was that each of your verbs should work for both time and math, without yet knowing that "time" was the other concept.)
     

    Wodwo

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Initiate is nice, thanks! I don't think "punctuate" will do for precisely the reason you describe. In my particular context what "interrompt" time is eternity, in other words, by definition, the end of time - as is suggested more clearly (without the maths reference) by "son achèvement". So I precisely don't want an idea of repetition and I do want the idea that time as an unfolding process is finished.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top