I, BOURBAKI.

Says kapahel: If Bourbaki did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. But I say: The Bourbaki which can be spoken of is not the true Bourbaki. (Via Бурбаки.)

Comments

  1. On the other hand, of the Bourbaki of which we cannot speak, let us pass over in silence.

  2. Note, from the Wikipedia article– ‘self-contained’, ‘austere’, ‘rigor’, ‘hostility’, ‘high abstraction’, ‘gulf with theoretical physics’, ‘influence decreased over time’, ‘Dieudonne’. Also, be sure to read the footnotes.
    My opinion is that Bourbaki was neither necessary nor inevitable.

  3. marie-lucie says:

    Dieudonne: you mean Dieudonné.

  4. marie-lucie: Since I’ve got your attention, how do you pronounce ‘de Broglie’?

  5. Bill Walderman says:

    As if it were spelled “de breuille?”

  6. Electric Dragon says:

    MattF: as if it were both a particle and a wave.
    Anyone who is not shocked by Bourbaki has not understood him.

  7. If a Bourbaki could speak, we could not understand him anyhow.

  8. marie-lucie says:

    “de Broglie” is pronounced as “de Broille”, although the French word corresponding to Italian broglie would be breuil, an old word now found only in the names Breuil and Dubreuil.

  9. marie-lucie says:

    p.s. If you have heard something that sounded more like “de Breuille”, it is because many Parisians front their open o‘s so that they sound more like open eu. Many years ago (perhaps in the 40′s) the linguist Marcel Cohen wrote an article called C’est jeuli le Mareuc, about this (then new) trend in pronunciation (instead of C’est joli le Maroc “Morocco is pretty”).

  10. My Longman Pronouncing Dictionary gives UK /də ˈbrəʊg li/ , US /də ˈbrɔɪ/ , French [də bʁɔj, də bʁɔ gli]

  11. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Bourbaki’s only interested in sets.

  12. Pfft! You can prove anything with sets.

  13. MattF: Benoit Mandelbrot’s uncle was a Bourbaki, and he came to the US in part to escape from their influence.

  14. MattF: Benoit Mandelbrot’s uncle was a Bourbaki, and he came to the US in part to escape from their influence.

  15. Greg: As a matter of fact, set theory is awash with propositions that may or may not be true, depending on the day of the week, or the side of the bed, or whatever.

  16. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Here’s a phrase I hadn’t heard before. From today’s Independent:

    Millions stolen in Ireland ‘tiger kidnapping’
    AP
    Friday, 27 February 2009
    Police say a Bank of Ireland employee has stolen millions of euros from his own branch after a gang took his family hostage and threatened to kill them unless he cooperated. So-called “tiger kidnappings” — when gangs seize families of bank officials — are common in Ireland, but usually involve much smaller cash losses. Police say the banker’s family was freed uninjured today after he delivered the money. Police have refused to confirm the precise sum stolen. Irish media are putting it at €7 million. If confirmed, this would be the second-biggest tiger kidnapping in Ireland.

    What does it have to do with kidnapping tigers?

  17. “Nothing contains everything; there is no universe”.

  18. “Nothing contains everything; there is no universe”.

  19. marie-lucie says:

    Mollymooly: French [də bʁɔj, də bʁɔ gli]
    The first one is the one I referred to as sounding like “de Broille”, the second is used by people who are unfamiliar with the name. The famous physicist Louis de Broglie, a descendant of an Italian family long settled in France, said [də bʁɔj] , and that is what people familiar with his name and reputation (if not his work) continue to say.

  20. Yes, I’ve always said [də bʁɔj] (well, anglicized: de BROY).

  21. Grumbly Stu says:

    Nobody but MattF and myself seems to have actually read any Bourbaki. What I read there in integration and topology I found useful, à l’époque. The authoritarian disposition didn’t bother me, because I wasn’t in France.
    It’s all very well to write out how de Broglie is pronounced. Soon, marie-lucie, I hope to win you over to pronounce it, and perhaps other French names, on namesayer.org.

  22. I read some of Dieudonné’s beserk “introduction” to analysis, written after his defrocking.
    But I thought Bourbaki was mostly started as an attempt to put French mathematics back in contention with the Dreaded Chermans, after WWI had wiped out most of the previous generation’s Most Promising.
    (These days the austere and pedantic end of the mathematical spectrum shuns sets for category theory, or so I heard. I no longer do anything more challenging than the occasional FFT.)

  23. I’d like to welcome Des back. Hopefully he will keep us updated on Hedvig Sophia, Sophia Hedvig, and the other prinsessen. Do they hunt bears as the lovely Kristina did? Or are they now PETA affiliated? We need to know these things.

  24. I’d like to welcome Des back. Hopefully he will keep us updated on Hedvig Sophia, Sophia Hedvig, and the other prinsessen. Do they hunt bears as the lovely Kristina did? Or are they now PETA affiliated? We need to know these things.

  25. mollymooly says:

    What does it have to do with kidnapping tigers?

    Nothing. Kidnapping a tiger is called catnapping. “It is called a ‘tiger kidnapping’ because of the predatory stalking that precedes it.”
    Not to be confused with express kidnapping.

  26. A.J.P. Crown says:

    You’re the ones who have the right to arm bears written into your Constitution. No, sorry, it’s the right to bare arms, isn’t it. I always get it mixed up.

  27. Dieudonne: you mean Dieudonné.
    So, underneath that descriptivist mask lies an acute prescriptivist? That’s hardly a matter of grave concern, but if you ever have occasion to refer to NZ’s other official written language, don’t forget the macron.

  28. marie-lucie says:

    Stuart,
    The é is important and means something in French, at the end of a word it is crucial to how to pronounce the word. I am not asking English readers to imitate a French pronunciation in all its details, but chopping off an entire syllable will make the word unrecognizable.
    I might as well respond that it would be prescriptivist of you to insist on my writing language hat rather than language hate in English: after all, in French the words mat and mate (masculine and feminine forms of the adjective meaning “matte”, that is, not shiny) both pronounce the t, so the additional e should not matter.
    Recent discussions on Language Log tried to clarify the difference between prescription (that is sometimes needed, as in these cases) and prescriptivism (the idea that strict rules have to be prescribed in order to prevent a language from going to the dogs).
    I understand what the macron is for in NZ’s other official language, and if the context required it I would try to find a way of writing it (if you let me know how, I would be grateful).

  29. Thanks marie-lucie for taking part in my little experiment.
    When I read your comment I saw an opportunity to test once again the limits of Internet communication by writing a light-hearted reply to see if the tone would be conveyed. In deference to Hat’s dislike of emoticons, I omitted one from the end of my post. I included two phrases intended to signal that the whole post was not in earnest. Both “acute prescriptivist” and “grave concern” were phrases deliberately written as pun-style references to the subject under discussion, ̀ and ´.
    If I had been serious, I would not have replied at all, because I still read French well enough to know the role of the ancillary markers, and would correct someone myself if they wrote “Dieudonne” for Dieudonné. Although most Anglophones I know tend the other way and assume that there is no “unaccented” e in French.
    As for the context in which the use of the macron is required for “Māori”, the answer is always. The word is “Māori”, not “Maori”. Conversations with bilingual speakers, including acouple of FL speakers, have taught me that it is a very “prescriptivist” sort of distinction, since the the word “maori” is effectively unheard of. Thus the omission of the macron from “Māori” would not affect comprehension, nor would affect the meaning. This is not always the case – wahine is singular, wāhine plural, but since to all intents and purposes there is no “Maori”, using it instead of “Māori” is only a technical error, not a critical one. That is true for non speakers of NZE, the error is increasing considered a grave socio-political solecism here.
    In conclusion, please accept my sincere apologies for acitivating your didacticism gene, but thanks for proving that emoticons really can be useful. As-salaam alaikum, noho ora mai.

  30. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Thanks marie-lucie for taking part in my little experiment.
    I’m guessing that Stuart looks like Inspector Poirrot.

  31. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Whoops, only one R in Poirot.

  32. Poirot? Belgium, man, that’s insulting! I see myself more as attempting to emulate Nero Wolfe’s stature physically and Clouseau’s intellectually.

  33. marie-lucie says:

    Stuart,
    I did sense some irony in your comment, although I am sorry to say I missed the acute/grave pun. Good for you! Nevertheless, as a teacher with many years’ experience, I take nothing for granted in anyone’s comments. But no need to apologize!
    I understand the importance of the macron in Māori, but I don’t know how to reproduce it except by copying and pasting, as now. How do you get it independently?

  34. For typing Māori I’m lazy. My Keyboard layout is “NZ English(Maori)” (sic), courtesy of an MS extension pack that means I simply hit the tilde key before any vowel needing a macron. That’s probably a little de trop for anyone not in NZ, but fortunately there are a bunch of specifically macronised fonts available on the Interweb, too. Here’s a list of many of them:
    Māori fonts

  35. rootlesscosmo says:

    Maybe, rather than Poirot, he resembles Professor Leakey?

  36. Siganus Sutor says:

    In Creole “liki” is the arse, which makes people here somehow smile while hearing the surname of this paleontological family. On the other hand, in French “le poireau” could be the male member. I learned not long ago that in Belgium “poireau” was pronounced “poro” — which made perfect sense while reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as the doctor, who is the neighbour of a newly arrived mysterious Belgian, thinks that the moustached man’s name is something like “Poreau”. From this evidence we can infer that Poirot himself pronounced his name “poro”.
    And Bourbaki? Must be a Sefardic Jew with a name like that.

  37. Thanks, John. The big prinsess news of the moment is that kronprinsess Victoria of Zweden is finally betrothed to her commoner of choice.
    ObTyping: the keyboard on this (UK model) netbook is quite bizarre: I can type wovels with acutes, but I can’t get a diaresis (“umlaut”) for love or money. Although today it has apparently reset itself to a US keyboard anyway.

  38. A.J.P. Crown says:

    The last name of the French boy who lived across the road when I was growing up was Recton and my music teacher was Mr Crapp. None of this seemed weird, but adults kept saying ‘Oh, what an unfortunate name, ho, ho, ho!’ which I used to find really irritating.

  39. What does it have to do with kidnapping tigers?
    Nothing. Kidnapping a tiger is called catnapping.
    I should think that anyone unwise enough to kidnap a tiger would risk the same fate as the unfortunate young lady from Riga.

  40. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Has anyone noticed this new publishing scam? Or it may be very old, I don’t know. Amazon sends me an email saying ‘buy this new book by Stephen Fry’. Only it turns out it’s not by Stephen Fry at all, it’s by someone totally different — some judge nobody’s ever heard of — but the publisher (presumably) got Fry to write a foreword and now they’re accrediting the whole book to him! Scumbags, the lot of them. What’s next: ‘A Guide to Saskatchewan’s License Plates’, by Steven King?

  41. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Is that teeger, or Reiga?

  42. This would be off-topic, if there was a topic.

  43. A.J.P. Crown says:

    There’s tax to be paid if that kind of thing is going on on Mars.

  44. marie-lucie says:

    Stuart, thank you for the tip. I will try.
    Siganus: I learned not long ago that in Belgium “poireau” was pronounced “poro”
    This is not restricted to Belgium, it is in some Northern French dialects as well (found written “porreau” when quoting them).
    I don’t think that Poirot, an educated man, pronounced his name that way, but there are no words beginning with the sounds pwa in English, and in addition the stress is on the last syllable (causing the pronunciation of the first syllable to change in English) , hence the mispronunciation by Poirot’s English neighbour. (If Poirot has said “poro”, surely there would have been some other signs in the many books where he appears that his pronunciation did not quite match the spelling of his name – he would have been correcting people all the time).

  45. My immense respect for Stephen Fry was shaken a bit when I read in Jenny Diski’s thrashing of All in the Mind, by Alastair Campbell, that he had provided a blurb that read: “a trademark assured elegance . . . devastating penetration of the human mind . . . A brilliant debut novel.” Now, it’s possible that Diski is completely wrong and that the well-known journalist/flack/alcoholic has in fact written a brilliant debut novel, but it seems more likely that he and Fry are pals and it’s just the usual back-scratching. Which is the way of the world, of course.

  46. A.J.P. Crown says:

    God, Campbell’s book sounds awful. In a similar vein to Diski’s, in The NY Times’s article about retiring D.A. Robert Morgenthau:

    When Roy Cohn … complained that Mr. Morgenthau was pursuing a vendetta against him, the district attorney retorted, “A man is not immune from prosecution just because a United States attorney happens not to like him.”

  47. I did once discover Bourbaki in out Maths library. Only much much later did I learn why I shouldn’t feel so bad about feeling stupid when trying to read him.
    Aside: “Porre” is Danish for “Leek” and was used, I think, in the translation of “Porreau”.

  48. marie-lucie says:

    “Porre” is Danish for “Leek” and was used, I think, in the translation of “Porreau”.
    Of course Poirot sounds exactly like poireau “leek”, but what do you mean by the translation of “Porreau”?

  49. Marie-Lucie: he would have been correcting people all the time
    But Hecule acts in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?

  50. Siganus Sutor says:

    ► Hercule (who doesn’t have any statue in Camaret).

  51. A.J.P. Krown says:

    ► Oh, Sig, I like that triangular arrow. Never seen it before.

  52. ► Yes, very cool!

  53. Siganus Sutor says:

    Easy: Alt 16.
    For this one, ▼, I don’t know the entry code. I suppose it’s for those who are above 18.

  54. marie-lucie,
    Sorry, it appears I added an r too many.

    I learned not long ago that in Belgium “poireau” was pronounced “poro” — which made perfect sense while reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as the doctor, who is the neighbour of a newly arrived mysterious Belgian, thinks that the moustached man’s name is something like “Poreau”. From this evidence we can infer that Poirot himself pronounced his name “poro”.
    Posted by: Siganus Sutor at February 28, 2009 12:30 AM

    Of course I should have checked that there’s no coïncidence at play. “Porre” is taken from the French. Ah well.

  55. marie-lucie says:

    No problem, Sili. The regional pronunciation is/was in fact porreau as I wrote before.
    On your link I see that the logo includes three lions: just like the arms of Normandy (which are gold over a red – gules – background). I always wondered where those three lions came from: they must be from the Viking period.

  56. No one has yet shed any light on the “Chamberlain” surname. I suspect it is just ordinary French of the fur trader variety.
    While the Runaway Pond flood of 1810 is legendary in the midst of some milieux, few bother to ask where all of that water ended up. It all went to Canada, where it raised the level of Quebecs’s Lake Memphremagog by one foot. Cryptozoologists will recognize this lake as the home of Memphre the Sea Serpent.

  57. marie-lucie says:

    the “Chamberlain” surname. I suspect it is just ordinary French of the fur trader variety.
    No, it is an English word, but probably borrowed from Old French, itself apparently a word from Frankish, based on a Latin root (the word camera “chamber”) and a Germanic suffix. The word meant a high official in charge of the king’s “chamber” at a time where there were no separate bedrooms. There were several versions of the OF word in earlier centuries. (info from the Trésor etc).

  58. A.J.P. Cornlaws says:

    The Chamberlains were a family of 19th century industrialists and Liberal and later Conservative politicians based in Birminham. The first and greatest, Joseph’s, father was a Camberwell shoemaker, however. The elder Chamberlains were great believers in Free Trade. Two socialists who are Chamberlain descendants are the Deputy-Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harmon, and her aunt, the late writer Elizabeth Longford. Harriet’s constituency is in Camberwell, I don’t know if that’s coincidence.

  59. Thanks m-l and AJP. I had hoped I was a bit French–after all the Chamberlain in the story had a Native American mother, and it was supposed to be the French who married Indians and not the Dutch and English. I presume she was some flavor of Algonquin on account of the name of the lake according to wiki: “The name Memphremagog is derived from Algonkian, in which it means ‘where there is a big expanse of water’”. But it looks like I must be even more British than I originally thought, and not the Norman kind of British either.
    I’m not sure that it even matters, except that history and places are so much more interesting when you can see your own family’s bit in larger population movements.

  60. Memphremagog: Ten Lost Tribes. Look for a “Gog”.

  61. Memphremagog: Ten Lost Tribes. Look for a “Gog”.

  62. Or rather, a Memphregog.

  63. Or rather, a Memphregog.

  64. Lost tribes? What? Gog and Magog.

  65. That’s a fantastic link, if I do say so myself.
    The Gog-Magog-Ten-Lost-Tribes story also got mixed up with the Turkish origin myth, according to which they were smiths trapped in a cave. But perhaps the Turks themselves concocted their origin myth from Christian-Jewish-Islamic sources; the steppe was not at all free of influences from the literate world.

  66. That’s a fantastic link, if I do say so myself.
    The Gog-Magog-Ten-Lost-Tribes story also got mixed up with the Turkish origin myth, according to which they were smiths trapped in a cave. But perhaps the Turks themselves concocted their origin myth from Christian-Jewish-Islamic sources; the steppe was not at all free of influences from the literate world.

  67. A.J. P. Crudd says:
  68. A.J. P. Cramp says:
  69. I’m envisioning a “Gog and Magog Around the World” TV show, with the wacky duo buying knicknacks and joshing with the locals in venues from Katmandu to Timbuktu. Get your Gog and Magog action figures before the holiday rush!

  70. A.J. P. Cohen says:

    It’s not a bad idea. i was scared of Gog & Magog when I was a kid, they were in a pantomime.

  71. And Prester John, who was poised ready to attack Islam for 160 years until Christendom realized that he was pretty damn old to still be poised ready to attack. So then his son Kind David took over, though he had to be pretty old too by that time too.

  72. And Prester John, who was poised ready to attack Islam for 160 years until Christendom realized that he was pretty damn old to still be poised ready to attack. So then his son Kind David took over, though he had to be pretty old too by that time too.

  73. marie-lucie says:

    JE, thank you for the link, it’s fascinating. You too, AJP, I never knew those English customrs.

  74. Re lions:
    Danish coat of arms. Supposedly dates to 1270, but

    It shows great similarities with the contemporary insignia of England’s Richard the Lionheart

    So, yeah, indubitably some Viking influence.

  75. marie-lucie says:

    Sili, it is pretty much the same in all three countries (Denmark, England, Normandy) except different colours, but all of them have three lions, which must have had a specific meaning.

  76. A.J. P. Crown says:

    If you look at “The earliest known example of the Danish arms, the seal of Canute VI, 1190s”, shown in b. & w. on the Wiki page, they are very realistic depictions of lions, not nearly as stylised as the later heraldic ones. Where had they seen lions? In the Copenhagen zoo? The crusades?

  77. Didn’t some Vikings carve some runic graffiti on the shoulder of a lion in Venice? I’m sure I have seen a photo of this.
    For what it’s worth, the Ethiopian kings kept lions–their symbol of royalty was the lion. The royal quarters have quarters for the lions out back. The Azraq oasis/hunting lodge on the northern Jordanian desert has depictions of lions carved in stone, also an ancient lodge near Amman, but there are certainly no lions there now, and the local variety of gazelle has to be protected in wildlife preserves.

  78. John Emerson says:

    Dead thread I fear, but the Normans collectively circumnavigated Europe, one group reaching Constantinople via Gibraltar, and the other via the Vistula and Dnieper. When the Crusaders captured COnstantinople, there were Swedes and also Englishmen in the Emperor’s palace guard, and one of them was returned to Sweden via Gibraltar, making him the only individual circumnavigator [known to me].

  79. Here’s the lion with the Viking runes, apparently it was looted from Athens in antiquity:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piraeus_Lion
    There are any number of commemorative stones in Scandinavia carved for family members who were mercenary soldiers in the Mediterranean, apparently not an uncommon thing to do.

  80. Didn’t some Vikings carve some runic graffiti on the shoulder of a lion in Venice?
    Man, that’s hardcore. Did they get away from the enraged lion in time?

  81. A.J. P. Crown says:

    That was Vikings? I thought it was English football supporters.

  82. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Yes, that’s very interesting. So the Piraeus lion is first or second century ad and only was taken (looted) to Venice from Athens in 1687. I wonder if it’s the original model for all the heraldic European lions? It’s not unlike the Danish one from 1190. Although that one is standing up, they have the same style of mane.
    Thanks, Nij.

  83. AJP,
    When the lion appeared in Piraeus is probably less important than when the Vikings saw it. Looking at the wikipedia article again, (I’ve been really busy with end of semester paperwork) it says the graffiti appeared in the “second half of the 11th century”. The runes did change over time, the original 24 germanic characters shifting to find symbols for all the additional Scandinavian sounds, then shifting back when the alphabet got too long. If it’s really important, you could probably find out the time frame for when all the Viking mercenaries were working as the Varangian guard for the Byzantine empire.

  84. Hat,
    Vikings shrink at nothing. The lion was lucky they didn’t carve the blood eagle.

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