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Topic: 11-gon
Replies: 15   Last Post: Mar 24, 2008 9:35 AM

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John Conway

Posts: 2,238
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: 11-gon
Posted: Oct 31, 1994 11:06 AM
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About the spelling of polygon names:-

These names are now "English", and their spellings are pretty
standard - in particular the "c" spellings are established.

Since essentially everyone uses "dodecahedron" rather than
"dodekahedron" or "dodecaedron", this really forces the spellings

octagon rather than oktagon

hendecagon rather than hendekagon or endecagon

and so on.

However, there IS some point to having a standard transliteration
system from languages which don't use our alphabet. I found this
when I was involved in translating Russian mathematical papers into
English - The American Math Soc has such a standard system, and it's
very convenient - different translators will use the same trasnliteration,
and the transliteration has the great advantage of determining the spelling
of the original. These advantages compensate one for the fact that
some names that already have standard English forms appear in unaccustomed
versions.

Of course, we've all seen this in far Eastern names, like

Beijing, Myanmar, etc. We'll get used to them.

About changes in German spelling:- As well as the change from c to k,
in the late 19th century, "th" was simplified to "t".

So the verb "thun" (to do) has become "tun", and "Thur" (tower)
has become "Tur", while "Thal" (valley) has become "Tal".

Some well-known proper names that were Englished before this change
retain the "th" - eg "Rosenthal", "Winterthur", and one of these has
become an English adjective: "neanderthal" (although I gather that some
paleologists now prefer "neandertal").

My own feeling is that once a word has gone so far as to lose its
capital letter, its English spelling is best kept fixed. But otherwise,
we should usually "do as the Romans", except in a VERY few well-known
cases. So for example I'd use "Rome" rather than "Roma", but "Hannover"
rather than "Hanover", and maybe "Firenze" rather than "Florence".

John Conway





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