A little rant (math vs. maths)

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Bobber » Mon May 03, 2010 8:27 am UTC

If you voice the th (but not the s) I find it much easier, but that may well be a feature of my oral anatomy. I gradually cut off the voicing as I pull my tongue back and down, going from th to s.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Deadcode » Mon May 03, 2010 8:06 pm UTC

Pesto wrote:Also, a historian. Not an historian.


As long as we're doing some nice thread necro here, I'd like to say:

H may be phonologically a consonant, but phonetically it's a vowel modifier. Put it before a vowel phoneme, and it converts a voiced vowel into {unvoiced vowel + voiced vowel}, where "unvoiced vowel" is the same vowel unvoiced. (If the vowel is phonetically a digraph, only the first half is modified.) If the vowel started with a glottal stop, then H also removes the glottal stop.

This explains the reasoning behind "an h*". I do think that "an historian" slides off the tongue more smoothly than "a historian". On the other hand, "a house by the sea" is not at all awkward, whereas "an house by the sea" is quite awkward unless you really do drop the H, like speaking in a Cockney accent.

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby PM 2Ring » Tue May 04, 2010 4:48 am UTC

nbonaparte wrote:I have a rather strong lisp, and I stick my tongue between my lips when pronouncing 'th'. I am incapable of saying maths. Math all the way.

I guess you'd not be a big fan of my favourite tongue-twister: "The Sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick".

How come Americans say "math" but not "physic"?

:)

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby tastelikecoke » Tue May 04, 2010 8:51 am UTC

It ends with c. Anything that ends with c sounds discontinuous. So Americans put an 's' on it. At least on my perspectives.

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Josephine » Thu May 06, 2010 1:49 am UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:I guess you'd not be a big fan of my favourite tongue-twister: "The Sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick".

That wasn't too hard actually. I block up when I try to start a phrase with s and a vowel. then the lisp comes in. But when I get going, I'm okay.I kept saying ship when I meant sheep, though.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri May 07, 2010 9:35 am UTC

nbonaparte wrote:
PM 2Ring wrote:I guess you'd not be a big fan of my favourite tongue-twister: "The Sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick".

That wasn't too hard actually.

Excellent!
nbonaparte wrote:I block up when I try to start a phrase with s and a vowel. then the lisp comes in. But when I get going, I'm okay.I kept saying ship when I meant sheep, though.

Ah. As I mentioned in another thread here, my step-dad doesn't say "sixth" - he says "sixt". One of my cousins took a few years to master the 's' sound, eg he'd say "snake" as "hnake", with the breathiness of the 'h' sound mostly coming out of his nose, rather than his mouth. I thought he might've had problems hearing some of the high frequencies in 's', but he eventually mastered it.

One of my oldest friends stutters, but he's mostly got that under control through speech therapy. He's a musician, and stuttering doesn't affect his singing, but it can interfere when he's trying to announce the name of the song, etc. For several years he went out with a woman who has a heavy lisp. Lots of people asked them if they met at speech therapy. :)

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri May 07, 2010 1:48 pm UTC

At the risk of beating a dead horse who I, perhaps erroneously, don't think should be dead:

Can we talk a bit more about the short/long billion disagreement?

Apparently, in Europe it's common to go
million = 10^6
billion = 10^12
trillion = 10^18

While in the US (Canada too, eh?) it's:
million = 10^6
billion = 10^9
trillion = 10^12

I didn't see much reasoning exposited for one or the other.
I'm speculating, wildly, that in Europe the reasoning is something like "It goes one thousand, ten thousand, one-hundred thousand, million. Therefore, it should go million, ten million, one hundred million, one thousand million, ten thousand million, one hundred thousand million, billion, because counters can be stacked as long as the same two counters aren't used. By stacked meaning that ten can be stacked on thousand to make ten one thousands."
To me as a PNW American E speaker, the reasoning goes, "It goes one, ten, one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand, million. Therefore, it should go million, ten million, one hundred million, billion, because only numbers less than ten, ten, and (number less than ten +) hundred can be stacked with another counter."

I can appreciate both ways of thinking (if indeed I'm correctly guessing the European reasoning) and I'm obviously biased towards my native dialect. I think the North American method beats the European method by economy, meaning it takes less time to say, and because it is a consistent "set of three" (compare to the Japanese "set of four" juu [10], hyaku [100], sen [1000], man [10000], thereafter like the American method with only juu, hyaku, and sen being stackable) counting method. Whereas the European method seems like an idiosyncratic "set of three, set of three, thereafter sets of six built of two sets of three" approach.

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Re:

Postby pizzazz » Thu May 13, 2010 11:42 am UTC

edit--never mind, I should read threads before posting.

But I will post support for "math," because
a) it is no less vague than "maths;" and
b) most people will know math over maths. The first term I heard the term, "maths," I thought someone was kidding around. Plus, how is ths harder to say than th? The s sound disappears half the time.

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby handiangel » Wed May 19, 2010 11:53 am UTC

It's most probably down to the fact I use 'maths' over 'math', but I find 'math' incredibly jarring when I have to say it, feels very unnatural. I find it more difficult to say than maths often!

As most people have reiterated, maths comes from mathematics, so it should end in s...

And yeah, a billion should be a million million, but I think that's going out of use with the wave of Americanisms taking over. When I talk about money, a billion dollars/pounds is 1000 million.

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 19, 2010 2:02 pm UTC

handiangel wrote:As most people have reiterated, maths comes from mathematics, so it should end in s.
And as others have reiterated in response, that's stupid, because it's not plural.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby handiangel » Wed May 19, 2010 3:09 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
handiangel wrote:As most people have reiterated, maths comes from mathematics, so it should end in s.
And as others have reiterated in response, that's stupid, because it's not plural.


Yeah, well, language is never exactly logical all time is it?

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 19, 2010 4:16 pm UTC

So you use "logic" to justify your position, and then you respond to my refutation by pointing out that language isn't logical...
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Bobber » Wed May 19, 2010 4:46 pm UTC

Hey handiangel, do you also find it easier to say baths than bath? I noticed you live in Bath, so yeah.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby handiangel » Wed May 19, 2010 8:41 pm UTC

Bobber wrote:Hey handiangel, do you also find it easier to say baths than bath? I noticed you live in Bath, so yeah.


Lol, a very good point. Depends how you say it. Do you say Bath with the long ar sound (don't know the phonetic whatsits) or Bath with the short ah sound?

To say baths with the long ar sound, I find it difficult,as I find it unnatural, (which has probably thrown my argument on its head...) but with the short ah sound, the one I use mostly (it's a north/south accent divide thing*), I don't find it difficult...

*I go to university in Bath, but don't come from Bath. Actually come from the Leicester area...

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Bobber » Wed May 19, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

All good points.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby handiangel » Wed May 19, 2010 10:15 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:So you use "logic" to justify your position, and then you respond to my refutation by pointing out that language isn't logical...


:oops:
I seem to do this a lot, where I manage to contradict my own argument... oh, well. Have your 'math' if you must ;)

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby themonk » Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:44 pm UTC

I use "math" when talking about the subject at school, but when talking in terms of "what are you doing?" "maths homework".

But I've lived in both Ireland and USA for good enough periods of time, so everything I say is a good mix.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby TimelordSimone » Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:17 pm UTC

I have nothing constructive to add, except that it was a long time before I discovered that a billion could be anything other than a million million.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there were 'only' 6.5 billion people in the world, rather than the 6.5 billion I thought there were. :P
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:38 am UTC

As a young child, I would pronounce 'maths' as 'mavvs' or 'maffs' trying to get it right, so I agree 'math' is a more natural sound. However, being used to it, they both feel natural to me, and I tend to use either depending on context. I.e., I did the math, and this is totally going to work seems fine to me, whereas I am more likely to refer to the subject as 'maths'.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Bobber » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:27 pm UTC

Now I feel like there is a distinction between "math" and "maths", with "math" referring to calculations and "maths" referring to the subject.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:40 pm UTC

Bobber wrote:Now I feel like there is a distinction between "math" and "maths", with "math" referring to calculations and "maths" referring to the subject.

Consider such a distinction ill-informed and probably false. I use English words how I please, but my Australian accent endears me to BrE and AmE speakers alike.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Bobber » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:29 pm UTC

Yeah okay sorry for ruining your language for you.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:34 am UTC

Bobber wrote:Yeah okay sorry for ruining your language for you.

Hmm? All I meant was that even though I sometimes speak as if there is such a distinction, using the distinction will make you appear ignorant as often as it will make you seem like a careful writer. I implied you could use it but I don't recommend it.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Bobber » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:38 am UTC

Oh sorry, I read a bit more into it than there was it seems :oops:
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby sir2you » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:52 am UTC

I don't know how people can argue that maths has a better sound. It's awkwardly hard to pronounce and the correct way is obviously math.

Iulus Cofield wrote:Stuff about millions and billions above


I agree with him.

Oh, and yeah... What IS up with "the calculus"?
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Minchandre » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:09 pm UTC

sir2you wrote:Oh, and yeah... What IS up with "the calculus"?


A calculus refers basically to just a set of mathematical methods for calculating something (e.g. "Functional Calculus"). The calculus refers typically to the calculus of integration and differentiation, 'cause it's one of the more popular calculuses (calculi?). I've actually used "the calculus" to refer to some other calculus, though, when it's clear in context. "Calculus" (no article, sometimes with a capital C) also refers to the calculus of differentiation and integration.

By the way, let me chime in to the topic at hand and note that many of the British/Australian arguments in this thread come down to "'Math' sounds stupid because it's American."




...Any comments on my quote style? :P

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:46 pm UTC

That's pretty standard quotation style, no?

Does anyone think all this math/maths arguing is a bit childish? Not in the sense of immature, but in the sense that semi-hostile, emotional arguments attempting to build conformity in a group's language is something that children do to build cohesion both linguistically and socially.

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Bobber » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:50 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:...Any comments on my quote style? :P
Yes, I must indeed say that your quote style is unusually usual. ;)
Iulus Cofield wrote:Does anyone think all this math/maths arguing is a bit childish? Not in the sense of immature, but in the sense that semi-hostile, emotional arguments attempting to build conformity in a group's language is something that children do to build cohesion both linguistically and socially.
I hate to be the one to point out that going into a discussion thread about X and saying "discussing X is childish" is kind of a dick move.

Okay, I lied. In fact, I love to be the one to point out that going into a discussion thread about X and saying "discussing X is childish" is kind of a dick move.

Yes, even with your little "but I don't mean childish in that way!" disclaimer :P
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Minchandre » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:35 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:That's pretty standard quotation style, no?


It's usually...American. The UK usage would be 'And then Jimmy said, "I hate you, dad!".'

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Galatea » Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:34 am UTC

'Maths' worked well for Radiohead...

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby PM 2Ring » Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:00 am UTC

Minchandre wrote:By the way, let me chime in to the topic at hand and note that many of the British/Australian arguments in this thread come down to "'Math' sounds stupid because it's American."

My opinion is that speech communities that use one variant rarely use the other variant, and especially not in school (or other formal contexts), so the uncommon variant just sounds wrong, similar to a speech defect or lazy pronunciation.

In Australian schools, teachers always use the word "maths"*, so an Aussie that says "math" has probably learned that version from American TV shows. When they are ridiculed for saying "math", the implication is that they pay more attention to TV than to their teachers. I admit that the expression "Do the math" is becoming common here, especially among younger people, but even then, the expression is often uttered in a fake American accent.

However, there are plenty of old-school prescriptivists in the older generations, and a lot of them consider American variants of English to be just plain wrong and they abhor the influence that American language has here. IME, it's pointless trying to argue with such people; they won't be moved from their high horse. :(


[*] At least, they did when I went to school. :)

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Yet-One-More-Idiot » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:27 pm UTC

Mathematics is not a singular word, nor a collective plural - it is a MASS NOUN. That is, it is a word that refers to a group of objects (in this case, all the Mathematical subjects) as a single collective unit. It's like the word hair, for instance as in the sentence, "My hair is slowly going grey" - hair isn't singular in this sentence, but it's still treated that way syntactically. :) Look up "mass noun" on Wikipedia for more information. :)

Mathematics, then, gets shortened to Maths, and the s is retained on the end to make the point that the word is still a mass noun. I can't think off the top of my head (which is covered in the mass-noun hair, again) if there are any other mass nouns that get shortened in this fashion, but I don't believe there are.

I agree however, that the "-ths" ending of Maths is quite difficult to pronounce correctly for people with lisps - I know, because I have somewhat of a lisp myself. But I still say the "-ths" ending instead of the "-th" ending simply because it is correct. And besides, it was us - the English - who invented this weird and wonderful language known as English, so naturally it follows that we should be the ones to dictate how words should be spelt (and not "spelled", ugh), should it not?

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:19 am UTC

Yet-One-More-Idiot wrote:And besides, it was us - the English - who invented this weird and wonderful language known as English, so naturally it follows that we should be the ones to dictate how words should be spelt (and not "spelled", ugh), should it not?
Nope.

English was invented by common ancestors of both of us. The fact that you happen to still live in the place where they did it doesn't give you some special privilege to dictate how the non-UK majority of English speakers should use our language. (And if you're going to go by what English was like before there was any such thing as an American variety, then you need to start pronouncing the letter <r> again before I'm about to start adding an <s> to the word "math".)
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby poxic » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:36 am UTC

Numberphile weighed in on this a couple of weeks ago.

Tl;dw:
"... The first known use of 'math' is from 1847 -- that's what the Oxford English Dictionary has recorded."
"... But we don't put the last letter from other abbreviations on the end of those abbreviations."
" ... [Also] mathematics isn't plural."

Dr. Lynne Murphy* reckons that because maths was first a written abbreviation, not a spoken one (people read "maths" but said "mathematics", the way we read "etc." but say "et cetera"), people later started to pronounce it with the S.

Makes me think of the name William, which used to be written Wm but was pronounced William. We generally call people Bill or Will, not Billm/Willm.

* full disclosure: she's an American, though being interviewed at an English university.
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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Derek » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:24 am UTC

Yet-One-More-Idiot wrote:Mathematics is not a singular word, nor a collective plural - it is a MASS NOUN. That is, it is a word that refers to a group of objects (in this case, all the Mathematical subjects) as a single collective unit. It's like the word hair, for instance as in the sentence, "My hair is slowly going grey" - hair isn't singular in this sentence, but it's still treated that way syntactically. :) Look up "mass noun" on Wikipedia for more information. :)

Mathematics, then, gets shortened to Maths, and the s is retained on the end to make the point that the word is still a mass noun. I can't think off the top of my head (which is covered in the mass-noun hair, again) if there are any other mass nouns that get shortened in this fashion, but I don't believe there are.

Your logic is fine until you get to the part about "maths" having an s because it marks it as a mass noun. "S" does not mark mass nouns, and you provided perfect counter-example with "hair". The leap of logic came out of no where.

How do Brits abbreviate other "-ics" words? I have never seen "economics" abbreviated as "econs", but I see "econ" all the time. Likewise "statistics" -> "stat", not "stats". I have also seen "ling" for "linguistics" on occasion, but never "lings" (except when discussing Starcraft).

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby phlip » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:33 am UTC

I don't hear much of the other two (not my fields... I've heard "econ" but I'm not sure it hasn't been mostly from Americans on the Internet rather than locals), but it's definitely "stats" here. Never heard "stat" before, certainly not to the extent I've heard "math" online.

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Derek » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:00 am UTC

phlip wrote:I don't hear much of the other two (not my fields... I've heard "econ" but I'm not sure it hasn't been mostly from Americans on the Internet rather than locals), but it's definitely "stats" here. Never heard "stat" before, certainly not to the extent I've heard "math" online.

For clarification, "stat" here refers to the subject and class. "Stat" can also be a regular count noun with meaning similar to data or metric, ie, a number used to measure something, in which case it has a regular plural "stats".

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby phlip » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:26 am UTC

Right. Here, the class/subject/discipline is abbreviated "stats". It's still noncount, like "maths" is.

For a typical example: "Jesus, you've got a huge fucking pile of numbers, there! How are you going to make any sense out of that shitton of data?" "Well, the only thing I can do. *Puts on sunglasses, adjusts coat* I'm going to use stats. *Supercomputers behind me explode, I don't even flinch*."

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby Yet-One-More-Idiot » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:30 am UTC

Derek wrote:
Yet-One-More-Idiot wrote:Mathematics is not a singular word, nor a collective plural - it is a MASS NOUN. That is, it is a word that refers to a group of objects (in this case, all the Mathematical subjects) as a single collective unit. It's like the word hair, for instance as in the sentence, "My hair is slowly going grey" - hair isn't singular in this sentence, but it's still treated that way syntactically. :) Look up "mass noun" on Wikipedia for more information. :)

Mathematics, then, gets shortened to Maths, and the s is retained on the end to make the point that the word is still a mass noun. I can't think off the top of my head (which is covered in the mass-noun hair, again) if there are any other mass nouns that get shortened in this fashion, but I don't believe there are.

Your logic is fine until you get to the part about "maths" having an s because it marks it as a mass noun. "S" does not mark mass nouns, and you provided perfect counter-example with "hair". The leap of logic came out of no where.

How do Brits abbreviate other "-ics" words? I have never seen "economics" abbreviated as "econs", but I see "econ" all the time. Likewise "statistics" -> "stat", not "stats". I have also seen "ling" for "linguistics" on occasion, but never "lings" (except when discussing Starcraft).


My logic didn't follow? Damn, I thought I was going well....oh well, that's what I get for writing at 3:30am! :P

But even though the logic I tried to present didn't hold up, I'm pretty sure that mathematics is still a mass noun anyway. And the abbreviation of "statistics" is "stats", not "stat" (which is a shortened latin term meaning roughly "at once", from statim). :)

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Re: A little rant (math vs. maths)

Postby sparkyb » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:34 pm UTC

Yet-One-More-Idiot wrote:But even though the logic I tried to present didn't hold up, I'm pretty sure that mathematics is still a mass noun anyway. And the abbreviation of "statistics" is "stats", not "stat" (which is a shortened latin term meaning roughly "at once", from statim). :)


Yes, you were right, mathematics is a mass noun, but the s on the end has nothing to do with it. In grammar mass nouns are basically treated equivalent to singular nouns except that they can't be pluralized. It is not the other way around where they get a permanent plural ending like s.

I thought Derek's point about other abbreviations was well taken with 'econ', but I also have mostly heard statistics abbreviated as stats (in America, no less). However I feel that although the field statistics seems like it has a similar form to the fields of mathematics and economics and should be a mass noun, I think in modern usage statistics has also become a plural. You can't have one mathematic or economic (this is only a word as an adjective), but you can have a single statistic. Which means you can have many statistics which could be abbreviated stats. In mathmatics you study equations/formulas/theorems and in economics you study markets/economies but in statistics you can study statistics. So good idea, bad example.


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