Thursday, March 14, 2013

Have Your Pi and English Too



Similar to how we tend to either identify with Christina or Britney or with cake or pie, we tend to think of ourselves as either a math person or an English person. 

This is hard for me because I consider both “Genie in a Bottle” and “Hit Me Baby One More Time” to be my jams, and if I were presented with a slice of flourless chocolate cake and rhubarb pie, I would shove them both in my mouth with equal gusto.
  
And the truth is that I enjoy calculating and conjugating.

I am thinking about this today because it’s National Pi Day (3/14), and just because I would be considered more of an English person, I don’t want to be left out of any Pi Day festivities.

Plus, I don’t think math and English are really as opposite as people think. 

English is largely considered to be the wilder of the two while math is considered the more rational. To put it in Sweet Valley High terms, Jessica would be English and Elizabeth would be math. And, of course, there are aspects of English that are wild and creative, but it can also be quite mathematical. Writing essays actually reminds me of the proofs I used to have to do in geometry: in order to successfully prove the thesis, one must logically present the supporting points. Also, I remember the phrase “if and only if” from math, and I tell my students that we use a comma before and “if and only if” the and joins two independent clauses: 

Comma: To celebrate Pi Day, I want to measure a circle’s diameter and circumference, and I also want to divide the circumference by the diameter.

No comma: To celebrate Pi Day, I want to measure a circle’s diameter and circumference and divide the circumference by the diameter.

And to top it off, math isn't always a stick in the mud. I know for a fact that Pi is totally irrational!

Do you consider yourself a math person or an English person? Or a little bit of both (manglish?)?





14 comments:

Mark said...

I almost want to say I'm a bit of both so I can call myself "Manglish". I do think that you're right in that the two are more intertwined than people think. People seem to think math is quite rational and tame because there's not much in the way of creativity and there is a lot of organisation and rules involved. The same does apply to some areas of English though, especially grammar rules.

Andrew Leon said...

Well, of course, I'm MANglish!

Actually, I was always a "math person" back when I was in school, because my math scores are, well, off the charts and stuff like that. But, man, by the time I was out of high school, I hated math, and I'm no slouch in the English department (I was like the star pupil at diagramming sentences (but, maybe, that's because it's math-like?)), so I majored in English in college, contrary to all of the advice of my advisors.

Liz said...

I've been writing 3/14 all day and I didn't make the connection. My brain is muddled by this cold, I guess.

I'm a bit of both. A writer who is pretty good at math. Most of the time. Just not today. (Although, today was more about classroom control and less about showing off my pre-algebra skills.)

the late phoenix said...

oh my God Particle, I remember now, iff, if and only if! 5th-grade library, the memories, the girls would snatch off the Sweet Valley High off the shelves, the boys, Encyclopedia Brown...remember libraries? those buildings of books? then, of course, there was hot pizza every Wednesday. I'm more of an eath, Manglish is my bookie's name...

DiscConnected said...

I've always put myself forth as an English person.

"Normal" math I am good with-it's logical, you can get your arms around it.

Start throwing logarithms and derivatives my way and someone's gonna get hurt!

Probably me....

LC

Shelly said...

You wild thing. I am English and words only. The math part of my brain atrophied from disuse right after college.

DWei said...

I don't know what to think right now. My brain hasn't had enough sleep to properly work.

Jono said...

In a world of specialization I am a generalist. I am pretty good at many things, but not very good at any one thing.

Jemi Fraser said...

I was always a bit of a mix up here too. In high school, my highest marks were in math & physics, yet I'm an English major. Now I get to teach both and I love it! :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm terrible at math, but I tackle things more rationally. I'm pretty good at writing though. Yes, let's have our pie and eat it too!

Powdered Toast Man said...

I'm more math than english. But I love pi/pie either way.

James Garcia Jr. said...

Um, yeah. I hate math. I would take English classes all day if I could...especially with awesomesauce teachers. *grins*

-Jimmy

Yolanda Renee said...

Great question!

I'm lousy at both, although I love numbers -- it's the easy ones like accounting, but English, my Achilles heel -- mental block -- worse than calculus!

Genskie said...

Ugh! I hate math and I am terrible at it too.