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numerophobia and erudition.

updated thu 31 oct 96


M. S. Davis on wed 16 oct 96

CLAYART, it is quite evident, has members from all walks of life with an
impressive array of erudition. Erudition, when displayed before the
public, should be used to elucidate, and not obfuscate, points that are
made in discussions or arguments. In other words, say it in fairly plain
English or when foreign languages are used, (which may be quite proper
because often the flavor may be lost in translation) provide an
interpretation to be sure that the large majority of people will understand.
This applies also to very specialized technical terms.

This is how I essentially understand Louis Katz's post below (expressed
in my own way with some elaboration) and I agree with him. He
certainly made his point. Nonetheless, I expect many people would be
happier if they were not left behind by statements they do not
understand. In an effort to correct this situation, I translate
Prof. Leon Cooper's statement which literally says, "If it is true that
cathedrals are being constructed today in science, it is a pity that
people cannot enter them nor touch the stones themselves.

Now, as to Louis Katz's statement in Thai. the only phrase I remember
from two visits to Thailand is "mai pen rai," which may be very
roughly translated as "who cares?" or "never mind." Since I did not find
this expression in his statement, I asked a Thai visitor on campus to
translate. She assured me that the statement was excellent Thai and
could be translated as: "Why do you think every one can speak French?"

"Esse quam videri" which is the motto of North Carolina (in Latin) and
means "To be rather than to seem".
Morris Davis
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

On Mon, 14 Oct 1996, Louis Howard Katz wrote:

> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> On Mon, 14 Oct 1996, Omer Artun wrote:
> > ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> >
> > I coudn't put is better than Mr. Davis, and would like to add something.
> > (For those of you who studied french instead of higher math.)
> > I would like to quote my Ph.D. advisor Nobel Lauerate Prof. Leon Cooper,
> > " S'il est vrai qu'on construit des cathedrales aujourd'hui
> > dans la science, il est bien dommage que les gens
> > n'y pussient entrer, ne puissent pas toucher les pierres
> > elles-memes."
> I would like to add in transliterated Thai as your email readers probably
> don't have Thai characters.
> Thaam (l)mai khun (f) omyr kit (f)waa tuk khon (f)phuut pha(r)saa
> farangset (f)dai?
> ***************************************************
> *Louis Katz *
> *Texas A&M University Corpus Christi *
> *6300 Ocean Drive, Art Department *
> *Corpus Christi, Tx 78412 *
> *Phone (512) 994-5987 *
> **************************************************