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  • I have the answer to a question that we've all asked.

    對於一個我們都會問的問題 我有個答案

  • The question is,

    這個問題是

  • Why is it that the letter X

    為什麼X這個字母

  • represents the unknown?

    表示未知數?

  • Now I know we learned that in math class,

    我們都在數學課中學過

  • but now it's everywhere in the culture --

    但它也延伸到日常文化的各個角落

  • The X prize, the X-Files,

    X Prize 全球創新獎、X檔案

  • Project X, TEDx.

    X計畫、TEDx

  • Where'd that come from?

    X到底從何而來?

  • About six years ago

    大約在六年前

  • I decided that I would learn Arabic,

    我決定學阿拉伯文

  • which turns out to be a supremely logical language.

    一種具高度邏輯性的語言

  • To write a word or a phrase

    利用阿拉伯文書寫一個字或一個單詞

  • or a sentence in Arabic

    或一個句子

  • is like crafting an equation,

    就像在刻劃一個方程式

  • because every part is extremely precise

    因為每個部分都極度準確

  • and carries a lot of information.

    而且蘊含大量資訊

  • That's one of the reasons

    這是其中一個原因

  • so much of what we've come to think of

    為什麼我們現在稱之為

  • as Western science and mathematics and engineering

    西方科學、數學和工程學

  • was really worked out in the first few centuries of the Common Era

    皆是在西元前幾個世紀

  • by the Persians and the Arabs and the Turks.

    由波斯人、阿拉伯人和土耳其人所發展出來的

  • This includes the little system in Arabic

    其中包括阿拉伯文稱作

  • called al-jebra.

    "al-jebra"的小系統

  • And al-jebra roughly translates to

    "al-jebra" 大概的意思是

  • "the system for reconciling disparate parts."

    一套調和不同部分的系統

  • Al-jebra finally came into English as algebra.

    "Al-jebra"發展成英文的代數

  • One example among many.

    這是眾多例子中的其中一個

  • The Arabic texts containing this mathematical wisdom

    包含了數學智慧的阿拉伯文字

  • finally made their way to Europe --

    後來傳播到歐洲

  • which is to say Spain --

    準確說是西班牙

  • in the 11th and 12th centuries.

    在11至12世紀時

  • And when they arrived

    對它們的到來

  • there was tremendous interest

    人們有著濃厚的興趣

  • in translating this wisdom

    要把這種智慧

  • into a European language.

    翻譯成歐洲的語言

  • But there were problems.

    但產生了一些問題

  • One problem

    其中有一個是

  • is there are some sounds in Arabic

    有些阿拉伯語的發音

  • that just don't make it through a European voice box

    歐洲人是發不出來的

  • without lots of practice.

    不經過大量練習的話

  • Trust me on that one.

    這點你們要相信我

  • Also, those very sounds

    此外 這些特別的發音

  • tend not to be represented

    在歐洲語言中

  • by the characters that are available in European languages.

    也找不到字母來代表它們

  • Here's one of the culprits.

    這裡有一個例子

  • This is the letter SHeen,

    這個字念作 "SHeen"

  • and it makes the sound we think of as SH -- "sh."

    和英文中的"sh"發一樣的音

  • It's also the very first letter

    也是"Shalan"這個字

  • of the word shalan,

    的開頭

  • which means "something"

    代表 "某些東西"

  • just like the the English word "something" --

    而就像英文中"某些東西"的字義

  • some undefined, unknown thing.

    某些未定義、未知的事物

  • Now in Arabic,

    在阿拉伯語中

  • we can make this definite

    我們可以在這個字前面

  • by adding the definite article "al."

    加上"al"這個定冠詞

  • So this is al-shalan --

    就變成了"al-shalan"

  • the unknown thing.

    "未知的事物"

  • And this is a word that appears throughout early mathematics,

    而這個單字在早期的數學中出現

  • such as this 10th century derivation of proofs.

    例如這道十世紀的推導證明題

  • The problem for the Medieval Spanish scholars

    對於中世紀那些

  • who were tasked with translating this material

    負責翻譯這些教材的西班牙學者而言

  • is that the letter SHeen and the word shalan

    問題是字母"SHeen"和單字"shalan"

  • can't be rendered into Spanish

    無法用西班牙語表達

  • because Spanish doesn't have that SH,

    因為西班牙語裡

  • that "sh" sound.

    沒有"SH"的發音

  • So by convention,

    所以依照常規

  • they created a rule in which

    他們創了一個規則

  • they borrowed the CK sound, "ck" sound,

    從古希臘語中

  • from the classical Greek

    借了"ck"這個音

  • in the form of the letter Kai.

    用"X" (Kai) 這個字母表達出來

  • Later when this material was translated

    而後當這些教材被翻譯成

  • into a common European language,

    通用的歐洲語言

  • which is to say Latin,

    也就是拉丁文

  • they simply replaced the Greek Kai

    他們把希臘語中的"X" (Kai)

  • with the Latin X.

    替換成拉丁文中的"X"

  • And once that happened,

    而當這件事發生

  • once this material was in Latin,

    當教材已被翻譯成拉丁文

  • it formed the basis for mathematics textbooks

    就成了其後600年的

  • for almost 600 years.

    數學課本的基礎

  • But now we have the answer to our question.

    現在來到了問題的答案

  • Why is it that X is the unknown?

    為什麼X代表未知?

  • X is the unknown

    這是因為

  • because you can't say "sh" in Spanish.

    你沒辦法在西班牙語中發"sh"的音

  • (Laughter)

    (笑聲)

  • And I thought that was worth sharing.

    而我覺得這值得分享給大家

  • (Applause)

    (全場鼓掌)

I have the answer to a question that we've all asked.

對於一個我們都會問的問題 我有個答案

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B1 中級 中文 美國腔 TED 字母 翻譯成 西班牙語 數學 歐洲

【TED】泰瑞.摩爾: 泰瑞.摩爾:為什麼 "X" 代表未知? (Why is 'x' the unknown? | Terry Moore)

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    Daniel Chin 發佈於 2015 年 05 月 20 日
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