mathematics (non-international terms)

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Gavril, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    There are at least two types of international words for "mathematics":

    1) those based on Greek mathēmatikḕ (tékhnē) "scientific (craft)"

    2) those based on Chinese 數學 / 数学 "number study" (shùxué in Mandarin)

    What words for "mathematics" do you know of that aren't based on either of these, and (if they are compounds) what do their components mean?

    Two examples that come to mind are

    Icelandic stærðfræði (stærð "quantity" + fræði "studies")
    Dutch wiskunde (not sure exactly what the parts mean -- hopefully the Dutch speakers can explain)

    In Finnish, many non-international terms have been proposed for "mathematics", e.g. määrintö (based on määrä "amount") and suurelma (based on suuri "large" or suure "quantity"), but all of them seem to have lost out to matematiikka.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2011
  2. er targyn Senior Member

  3. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Wis- means true, sure; -kunde is related to kunnen (can).

    Maybe interesting to know: the term wiskunde (orig. wisconst) was coined by the 16th century Dutch scientist Stevin who prefered to "translate" Greek and Latin terms, or rather to coin "pure" Dutch words.

  4. Tamar

    Tamar Senior Member

    Israel, Hebrew
    In Hebrew: חשבון [kheshbon] (means arithmetic)
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    What does the root of this word mean? Did kheshbon originally have a meaning different from "arithmetic"?
  6. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    My question was about terms for the whole field, "mathematics" (French mathématiques, German mathematik, Icelandic stærðfræði, and so on). I'm sorry if that was unclear.
  7. origumi Senior Member

    Literally kheshbon is (more or less) calculation. Root kh-sh-b means also think.

    Another Hebrew term is הנדסה handasa = geometry, where root h-n-d-s basically means engineering.
  8. francisgranada Senior Member


    szám - number ("numerus", not quantity)
    tan - doctrine, lore

    (the word matematika is also used, especially in a more complex or "scientific" sense)
  9. Havfruen Senior Member

    English - American

    regning - arithmetic (means the school subject, a calculation, or a bill or receipt)
    aritmetik - arithmetic (I think this is less common than regning)
    matematik - mathematics
  10. amikama

    amikama sordomodo

    Both are sub-fields of mathematics. As far as I know, mathematics - as the whole field - has no equivalent term in Hebrew. We just say מתמטיקה (matematika).
  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I'm curious about that distinction between quantity and what you call numerus. Can you explain it, please?
  12. francisgranada Senior Member

    Maybe I was not clear enough, e.g.: 254,000,000 is "a big number", but we can say "a big number of people" as well, in the sense of "a big amount" of people.

    The word számtan is colloquially used also in the general sense of the term mathematics (e.g. as a subject at school), but the precise terminology should be as follows:

    számtan - aritmetic
    mennyiségtan - mathematics
    mértan - geometry

    szám - number
    mennyi - how much/many
    mennyiség - quantity (amount)
    mér - from mérni, to measure
    tan - doctrine, lore
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  13. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    How commonly are these terms used? For example, do children mention mennyiségtan as one of the subjects they learn in school?
  14. francisgranada Senior Member

    I'm not able to give you an exact answer, because I don't live in Hungary. I have a feeling that today, as subjects (at least in case of higher education), the international (graeco-latin) terms are preferred, while in the past the proper Hungarian terms were used more commonly in these cases.

    By the way, this kind of terminology (i.e. compound words) are very common and normal in Hungarian, thus terms like mennyiségtan are perfectly "usable" (even if a school subject were called today "officially" matematika) ...
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2011
  15. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)

    When I was a little schoolboy the mathematics as a school subject was called počty (plural), which means calculi.

    počet (sing.) =

    1) number, like in počet proměnných (= the number of variables);
    2) calculus, like in infinitesimální počet (= infinitesimal calculus);
  16. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    算術 算术 suànshù (calculate skill/technique/craft)
    Was used before shuxue came along.

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