To be, or not to be?

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SpiritOfRock
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To be, or not to be?

Postby SpiritOfRock » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:26 pm UTC

Me and my friend are arguing the best mathematical terms to state 'To be, or not to be? That is the question.'

My version is as follows:

2b=|?|
Which can be solved for ? to be "2b or -2b = ?", or, 'to be or negative to be equals question'.

His argument is that negative 2b isn't anything like 'not to be', as 'not to be' would be equivalent to all values that aren't 2b. I don't feel it necessary to make an equation stating that ? is equal to either 2b or any value unequal to 2b, as that should be a given.

His equation goes:
[2b,0(2b)]=?

Although it simplifies to the question being equal to either 2b or zero, he claims that it is more correct than my version as, in Britain, people read 'zero' as 'not' and therefore, when it is not solved, it reads directly as 'to be or not to be equals question'.

Which version is more correct, and, is there a better way to express that statement in terms of math?

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Aiwendil42 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:42 pm UTC

in Britain, people read 'zero' as 'not'


I believe they call zero "naught", not "not". Yeah, you're obviously punning on "2"/"to" and "b"/"be" anyway, but the pronunciations are completely different (at least, the way I say them).

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Luonnos » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:48 pm UTC

I do prefer your form for its simplicity. As for your friend's it could be written as [math]\left(\frac{1+\sqrt1}{2}\right)2b[/math] where sqrt(1) can take on the values of 1 and -1. That way the term on the left is either 1 or nought, producing 2b or 0(2b). You could instead write [math]\xi 2b[/math] where xi represents a random binary bit. Also, logical notation isn't out of the question. Maybe something like (b&b)|~(b&b) (which happens to evaluate to true).

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Xanthir » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:09 am UTC

Aiwendil42 wrote:
in Britain, people read 'zero' as 'not'


I believe they call zero "naught", not "not". Yeah, you're obviously punning on "2"/"to" and "b"/"be" anyway, but the pronunciations are completely different (at least, the way I say them).

I know this isn't a language thread, but can you elaborate on how you say "not" and "naught", and where you're from? From the Southern US, I pronounce them identically.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby jestingrabbit » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:12 am UTC

To be completely unhelpful, naught rhymes with sport, not rhymes with spot.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby meatyochre » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:17 am UTC

I live in the midwest and the difference is slight but it does exist for me (perhaps it's more pronounced in British English, because they do different things with vowels and the "R" sound).

For me it's basically the difference of "not" vs "nwot." Naught has more of a "w" sound in it whereas "not" is a flatter "ah".

I mean, let's say that "notty" is a word (and it rhymes with dotty) and compare it with "naughty". I definitely pronounce them slightly differently ("ah" vs "aw").
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Xanthir » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:24 am UTC

Ah, that helps. Yeah, the knotty/naughty distinction doesn't exist in my accent. That explains it.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Aiwendil42 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:49 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:To be completely unhelpful, naught rhymes with sport, not rhymes with spot.


I assume you have a non-rhotic accent?

For me (from New Jersey), "not" is /nat/ and "naught" is /nɔt/ or maybe /nɒt/. That is, "naught" has the "aw" sound of "saw" or "lawn".

Or, to be completely unhelpful, it has the same vowel as in "coffee" and "dog"!

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby jestingrabbit » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:24 am UTC

The internet tells me I have a rhotic accent. But ultimately, the way these conversations go is someone comparing the way they pronounce one word to the way they pronounce another. Its information that is entirely relative to the information that is being sought.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:33 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:The internet tells me I have a rhotic accent.
Only if you speak differently from every other Australian I've ever met.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby jestingrabbit » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:01 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
jestingrabbit wrote:The internet tells me I have a rhotic accent.
Only if you speak differently from every other Australian I've ever met.


From WP

A rhotic (pronounced /ˈroʊtɨk/, sometimes /ˈrɒtɨk/) speaker pronounces the letter R in hard


I pronounce the r in hard, and Gillard and any number of other words, like number, other and words. Therefore, the internet tells me I'm rhotic. I know the accent that your talking about, often called a drawl here. If you want to hear other rhotic australians, I'd recommend playing a video at

http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/

for instance.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Lazar » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:11 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:To be completely unhelpful, naught rhymes with sport, not rhymes with spot.

If "naught" and "sport" rhyme for you, then you're definitely non-rhotic.

I pronounce the r in hard, and Gillard and any number of other words, like number, other and words. Therefore, the internet tells me I'm rhotic. I know the accent that your talking about, often called a drawl here.

I think you might be a bit confused on the phonetics - all of the major Australian accents, from Broad Australian to posh near-RP, are non-rhotic. The written letter "r" may convey a distinct pronunciation (e.g. non-rhotic speakers still distinguish "hard" from "had"), but that doesn't mean that you're pronouncing an [r] in phonetic terms. Like gmalivuk, I've never heard a rhotic Australian, except for some who live in the US and have a hybrid accent.

For purposes of comparison, almost all English people are non-rhotic, except for some in the southwest and north. Almost all Americans are rhotic, except for some in New England, the New York City area and the south.

If you want to hear other rhotic australians, I'd recommend playing a video at

http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/

for instance.

The man in that video is non-rhotic.
Last edited by Lazar on Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:28 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Qaanol » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:23 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:But ultimately, the way these conversations go is someone comparing the way they pronounce one word to the way they pronounce another.

Sometimes if you ask they’ll record themselves pronouncing both words and upload it.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby jestingrabbit » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:43 am UTC

Lazar wrote:The written letter "r" may convey a distinct pronunciation (e.g. non-rhotic speakers still distinguish "hard" from "had"), but that doesn't mean that you're pronouncing an [r] in phonetic terms.


So when WP said 'pronounces the letter R' it meant pronounces the letter R in a particular way. This is why doing this sort of thing in text is so frustrating.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Lazar » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:49 am UTC

Yep, that's why it's necessary to use the IPA in phonetic discussions. I agree that wiki's definition of rhotic is not suitably clear enough.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby phlip » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:13 am UTC

Xanthir wrote:I know this isn't a language thread, but can you elaborate on how you say "not" and "naught", and where you're from? From the Southern US, I pronounce them identically.

They sound different in accents that don't have the cot-caught merger.

Re: Rhotic accents, have a look at this list of homophones in non-rhotic accents... most of those are homophones when I pronounce them... an R after a vowel just modifies the vowel, it's not pronounced itself (but before learning about the distinction, and growing up surrounded by non-rhotic speakers, I would've sworn that an R after a vowel is pronounced... and the longer vowel is just what an R sounds like).

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:28 am UTC

For those of us with rhotic accents, "what an R sounds like" is pretty much the same in the word "rhotic" as it is in the word "word". For non-rhotic accents, the letter <r> at the beginning of a word or between vowels is actually a rhotic sound, whereas at the end of a word or after a vowel and before a consonant, it just modifies the vowel.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby jestingrabbit » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:35 am UTC

phlip wrote:Re: Rhotic accents, have a look at this list of homophones in non-rhotic accents


That list stops working for me after batted-battered.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby njperrone » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:26 am UTC

Aiwendil42 wrote:
For me (from New Jersey), "not" is /nat/ and "naught" is /nɔt/ or maybe /nɒt/. !


Im from Pennsylvania bordering New Jersey and I say not with a short o and naught like nawt. I'm going to take a guess and claim you are from northern New Jersey.

jestingrabbit wrote:Its information that is entirely relative to the information that is being sought.


Is it right to say naught rhymes with sought?

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby njperrone » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:27 am UTC

Also, does stating "To be or not to be?" in terms of logic count as in terms of mathematics? Or are we considering them separate?

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:39 pm UTC

njperrone wrote:Is it right to say naught rhymes with sought?
Yes, I think that's true in every accent.
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Aiwendil42 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:29 pm UTC

I'm going to take a guess and claim you are from northern New Jersey.


Yep.

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby phlip » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:33 pm UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:
phlip wrote:Re: Rhotic accents, have a look at this list of homophones in non-rhotic accents

That list stops working for me after batted-battered.

Yeah, me too... the entries after that are for people with non-rhotic accents that also have other mergers too, none of which are in the Australian accent.

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby <nyssa> » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:51 pm UTC

phlip wrote:
jestingrabbit wrote:
phlip wrote:Re: Rhotic accents, have a look at this list of homophones in non-rhotic accents

That list stops working for me after batted-battered.

Yeah, me too... the entries after that are for people with non-rhotic accents that also have other mergers too, none of which are in the Australian accent.

And me. The often-orphan one was interesting for me to read about - there's a scene in the Gilbert and Sullivan play The Pirates of Penzance which plays on the fact that those words rhyme. However, reading the play, I could never work out how, mainly because I was reading with my own accent in mind, and seeing the Australian production of it didn't help. There's a lecturer at my university though, who does pronounce them to rhyme, and next time I see him I shall ask him where he's from.

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby tendays » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:32 pm UTC

I have this tee-shirt: http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-appare ... ment/57f0/ , which suggests an answer to the original question (specifically, what it says sounds like "to be, or to not be", which I think is just as good, and doesn't match everything like "to be or not to be" would)
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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Tirian » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

That regular expression is troublesome. It matches "Abba", which I think Hamlet was not considering. Perhaps the play would have turned out better if he had been.

Among the universe of suggestions, I will suggest [imath]\mathrm{lim}_{n\rightarrow\infty}(-1)^n2b[/imath]. It has no value, but neither did the soliloquy when all was said and done.

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:44 pm UTC

How odd. I don't recall seeing 0 called "naught" before, but I am familiar with "nought" as a name for 0. I use it myself, although I use zero far more frequently. And I ought to confess that I'm guilty of pronouncing 0 as "oh". :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nought wrote:Zero, written 0, is both a number and the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals. It plays a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, 0 is used as a placeholder in place value systems. In the English language, 0 may be called zero, null, nil, "o", aught (pronounced /ɔːt/), or nought (pronounced /nɔːt/).

However, "naught" and "nought" are homophones. True, "naught" does mean "nothing", but I've never seen it used to denote the number / numeral 0.

As for the OP, I agree that a logical expression is better than an algebraic one.

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Re: To be, or not to be?

Postby Aiwendil42 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:55 pm UTC

Oh, "naught" and "nought" are ultimately just different spellings of the same word, though the variation between the two vowels appeared as early as Old English. The O.E.D. tells me that nowadays using the spelling "naught" for the character zero is chiefly U.S. (though in my experience, everyone raised here calls it "zero"), but any distinction is a comparatively recent invention.


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