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[sage-support] Re: English grammar of numbers Pierre Sun Aug 30 04:00:30 2009

hi all,

two comments:

(1) Simon, let me offer the following pedantic comment which i advise
you to ignore (!). Technically, i believe that writing "a 2-cocycle"
is incorrect anyway, as it should be "a two-cocycle". Likewise, "the
proof splits into 2 cases" should be "the proof splits into two
cases", and so on. You're supposed to separate the math from the rest.
(I'm pretty certain of this. If anyone has doubts, try to think of a
paper which defines the natural numbers and the symbols 1, 2, 3...
It's of course okay for this paper to have "chapter one", "chapter
two" etc).

Of course this is just silly (as grammar (typography?) rules can
sometimes be), as a 178-cocycle is a nightmare to write down, and i'm
not even sure what to make of n-cocycles where n isn't defined yet.
For the record though, i think what i've said is correct. At least
i've recently finished an article for which the co-author made change
all the 2-cocycles into two-cocycles, so i guess he was pretty serious
about that.

(2) about french, as a native speaker i can tell you that it is very
straightforward to go from spelling to sound. You (almost...) never
come accross a word which you don't know how to pronounce, even if
you've never seen it before. And that includes proper nouns : people
and places automatically have a french pronounciation! (from which a
french speaker will have a hard time to deviate, maybe the reason why
we're so bad at pronouncing foreign languages). The reverse is quite
false, and we often ask "how do you spell that ?" when taught a new
word, as if spelling had more importance than sound.

That being said, the "algorithm" to go from spelling to sound is in
fact rather tricky. I know that from trying to teach it to someone...
say, in order to pronounce "les habits", you have to know that:
(i) the final s marks the plural, so it's ignored,
(ii) rule (i) makes the t the final letter, and it's a consonant, so
it's ignored (not even a strict rule, this)
(iii) we ignore all the h's anyway
(iv) since the h isn't really there, the s at the end of "les" must be
connected to the a (this prevents rule (i) from applying for this
word !!!!)

Results : lays-a-bee !

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