Translator’s Note
Translating Ehrhard Behrends’s hundred mathematical vignettes has
been a great pleasure. It was also occasionally a challenge. The
phrase “lost in translation” exists for a reason, since no translation
can reproduce every nuance of the original. Fortunately, mathematics
is a universal language, and I was not confronted with the types of
issues faced by the translator of poetry or fiction. I was able to
carry over most of the content intact. Some choices had to be made,
however. Should I, for example, change references to the currency
of the European Union, the euro, to dollars? I decided that the
English-speaking audience could deal with a foreign currency, and so
euros were retained. As of the moment of writing, one euro can be
purchased for about US$1.42. On Monday, 12 May 2003, when the
first of these articles appeared, the euro was trading at US$1.15.
I also retained geographical references to Germany and references
to the German national lottery. On the other hand, for the English
reader’s benefit, kilograms and meters have been converted to pounds
and feet, and degrees Celsius to degrees Fahrenheit. References to
odds of obtaining particular hands in the card game skat have been
reinterpreted in terms of poker.
That was the easy stuff. How was your translator to deal with
the chapter title “Die adchenhandelsschule,” in which the way that
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