How to present mathematics in any language
It has been observed (by me) that the language used in mathematics can be somewhat repetitive, and does not require a very large vocabulary. The mathematical symbols are language-free, and convey an endless variety of concepts, but the language used as glue between them is often like glue in being bland, unvaried and occasionally opaque. Because of this feature of mathematical speech, this compact collection of words and phrases is intended to provide everything you need to give your talk or seminar presentation in any language you want: German, Finnish, French, Swahili, Korean, Sindarin — in any language. (There might be 2–5 phrases specific to your field that are not covered by this list, such as “We ignore the real part of the problem.”)
Simply ask a local to fill in these words and phrases in the local language, and you're “good to go” (Ger. “Die Guten mussen rausgehen!”) to talk about open balls (Sp. “abierto cojones”) or whatever.
Opening the talk
- Good morning / day everybody.
- I hope everybody's not too hungry / full / tired / hung over / drunk for some mathematics.
- It's nice to be here in (place); the city is very fine / the wilderness looks very rural. The people who invited me / allowed me to come / have not yet realized who I am are also very nice.
- I would like to thank the organizers.
- I thank the organizers.
- I would like to be able to thank the organizers.
- Hey, organizers, go stuff yourselves. (appropriate local hand gesture)
Giving the talk
- In (year), (name) proved (thing). Numerous papers have been published on the subject since.
- I think it was in a paper by (name) in 1971.
- Let us assume that…
- This is a standard assumption.
- Our main results are that…
- If … then …
- … if and only if …
- assuming / defining / hoping / disregarding for now
- Here our definition is slightly / wildly / deliberately non-standard / contradictory / stupid and evil.
- We abuse the notation for clarity and profit.
- by the usual tricks / as in the book of (name) / by a similar argument / I don't need to explain these things to you. / You know this, right? Yes you do.
- and / no / not / never / neither / this is a disaster / this cannot be / this looks like a contradiction / yes, it is a contradiction / well, let's assume it's a contradiction / then we get to the hard part
- Note that (thing) satisfies condition (number). / These are just some constants. / Who cares what this function is? I don't. / The proof is complete! / Can this estimate be improved? Maybe, maybe not.
- This thing here. / All these things. / Those scary equations.
- From this it follows that…
- Let's not get into details here.
- This is very technical; I'll skip it.
- I'm running out of time so I'll skip this.
- Well, this is not interesting. Skippety skip.
- This reminds me of a thing that (name) once said. (Also learn the anecdote in the local language.) Such fools these humans are!
- Thank you; here is a humorous picture.
Ending the talk
- Are there any questions?
- That is a very good question. I'll have to get back to you on that.
- No no, look at this slide. / I wiped that away already, but it was very clear.
- That's an interesting view.
- Well, I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘proof’…
- Yes. Yes. Okay. Thank you. Are the any other questions?
When there are problems
- I have the chalk — I speak!
- Please ignore his screams. These laser pointers do not permanently injure eyes.
- I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying I could be wrong?
- Yes, ‘numerous papers’ means at least three. My God, how can you be this behind on proper mathematical nomenclature?
- Yes, I was told (place) suffers from (natural disaster). It has been an honor knowing all of you. (Except (name), your papers are poorly written and make several untrue assertions. Nobody really likes you.)
- How do you turn this thing on?
- I think the computer exploded / caught fire / vanished. Can somebody help me?
- Is this smoke dangerous?
- Please stay close to the floor and follow the emergency exit signs.
- Well, I'll use the projector / blackboard / just talk / scream then.
- Is this a revolution? I am a famous foreign mathematician, do not shoot me.
- I don't know any of these people. I think that one is a Communist / American / terrorist. I love your country.
- The Spirit of Euler has manifested before our eyes. We listen and obey, oh chalk-white master. The Day of Integration is here!