ln(x) -- pronunciation of the mathematical term

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Gavril, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA

    How do you normally pronounce name of the mathematical function "ln(x)"?

    In American English, I've heard the pronunciations "linn X" (pronounced like the name Lynn) and "L-N (of) X" (the letters "L" and "N" pronounced separately).
  2. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    I'd say 'natural log' or 'log base e' or even 'log e'


    log2 == log two
    log10 == log ten
    ln == log e

    Here's a previous discussion ln pronunciation

    For me it depends on the context. Are you speaking over the phone or to someone who can see the same text?
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  3. mathman Senior Member

    near boston
    English-American/New England
    We (mathematicians) in the US usually just say "ell-en x" (i.e., say the two letters separately). I don't know anyone who says "linn x," and a pronunciation like that would lead me to think that the person does not know very much math (but I don't know many BE mathematicians: they may pronounce it like that, or in some other way). In more advanced contexts, only the natural log is used, and so people just say "log x," with the natural log being understood. In fact, in such more advanced contexts, the natural log is just written "log," even though that notation is usually reserved for the common logarithm (base 10 instead of base e).
  4. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    I am a mathematician, and I say "len", though in fact it's more likely to be said "log", because as mathman says, if you're freely using the ln function it's probably the only logarithm you're talking about. I haven't heard it spoken as two letters L N, in all my school and university classes. Note that there are some US accents where Len and Lynn (pen and pin) are pronounced the same, so this might influence the perception.
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I actually say "log" for the base-e logarithm as well, but I was originally taught to view "log" as meaning base-10. Later on, in some of my college-level math classes, there seemed to be a stigma attached to the "ln" notation, and I've avoided using it ever since. :)

    I did originally hear the "Lynn" pronunciation in California, though not in the part of California where the pen/pin merger is supposedly concentrated.
  6. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    As others have said, it depends on the level of maths in contention. When we as children had to learn log tables by rote, the default base was 10, and then 'log' was pronounced log (like a 'yule log') - there was no reference to the base.
    Later on, if you went on to study 'proper' maths, then the default base had changed to e, at which point 'ln' was pronounced log (as in 'captain's log') - again, the base was taken as read.

    Somewhere in between times, as the shift from base 10 to base e was under way, base ten logs were pronounced log to the base ten, and Napierian logs were either pronounced L.N. (as in 'poire belle Hélène'), or lun (as in 'Wilf Lunn').
    I have never heard them being pronounced as Len and Lynn (pen and pin).

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