ec2-54-234-42-16.compute-1.amazonaws.com | ToothyWiki | RecentChanges | Login | Webcomic If you wish to leave PeterTaylor a message, drop it in /PrivateMessages Currently residing in Valencia?, Spain?, to which city he moved to be involved in planting a [Spanish- and English-speaking international church]. I have a question (maybe more later) for anyone who has the English version of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon. I've just finished reading it in translation and I'm curious about the original English of some parts. In particular, in chapter 71 he talks about sitting an exam in maths (bachiller superior, which I would normally presume to mean A-level), and then after that going on to do a "specialisation course in mathematics and physics" to prepare him for university. But then reading his favourite question from paper 3 (i.e. the hardest) of the exam (appendix; see ~60% of the way through ch. 233) it looks like GCSE rather than A-level. So is it GCSE maths followed by A-level maths and physics, or A-level maths followed by something like STEP maths and physics?
(Flicking through our copy rather than remembering reading it): p71 talks about him planning to sit an A-level and being the first person in his school to do one. I can't find the bit about a "specialisation course in mathematics and physics" - is that on p71 too? Chapter 223 is all about him taking his A-level. And I don't think the question in the appendix looks like GCSE. I don't remember having to prove anything at GCSE, just mindlessly apply memorised formulae. --Rachael
Dunno about page 71, because I expect the page numbers will be different. At the end of chapter 71 there's a paragraph (my back-translation): "And after taking A-level Mathematics I'm going to take the specialisation course in Mathematics and Physics and then I will be able to go to university. In our city, Swindon, there isn't a university, because it's small. So we will have to move to a city with a university because I don't want to live alone or in a house with other students. But that will be fine because Father also wants to move to a different city." The question in the appendix seems to me to be top end of GCSE or bottom end of A-level - it could conceivably be P1 - but the final paper in a multiple-paper exam should be the hardest, not the easiest, and that certainly shouldn't be the most interesting question in an A-level paper. --PT
I'll have another look tonight. (Also: It must be interesting to translate a book like that. Have they captured the slight stiltedness of the narrator's style in the Spanish? If so, do you think there's a danger that people will misunderstand and just think it's a poor translation?) --Rachael
Good question. It does feel quite stilted, and I did find myself wondering whether the translator was Puerto Rican or Mexican because although some bits are translated really well other bits feel like Google Translate output: too literal. For example, "go to bed" is consistently translated as "irse a la cama" rather than "acostarse", which would have earned me a reprimand from my teachers. Now that you ask that I find myself unsure. Since it's my book club's book of the month, I may ask the native speakers what they thought of that when we meet up to discuss it. --PT
Aha. "And after I've taken A-level Maths I am going to take A-level Further Maths and Physics and then I can go to university". I should have thought of Further Maths - seems obvious in hindsight. (And I guess there's scope ambiguity in "the specialisation course in Mathematics and Physics" (in Spanish too?) and we both took the specialist bit as referring to the physics too.)
Flicking through the book to answer your question has made me want to read it again :)
I had another look at the question in the appendix. I'm not sure it's either GCSE or A-level. The maths you'd need to know to answer it is only GCSE, but I think it's quite a lateral-thinking style of question despite the easy material. IME, you don't meet that style of question until STEP. But you wouldn't get that exact question on STEP either because the material is too easy. If I was placing it anywhere it would be in a maths olympiad-type thing for GCSE-level students. --Rachael
I just looked in the front of the book and it says "A-level maths question reproduced by kind permission of OCR." --Rachael
Further Maths did occur to me but I don't think there is any scope ambiguity in the Spanish and so I rejected it. Perhaps the ambiguity in the English (which is easily resolved by knowledge of the A-level system) misled the translator. Thanks.
I don't think that the question does require much lateral thinking. Ditch the requirement that the disproof of the reverse statement be by counterexample and it would, but as it is all it requires is knowing the second-smallest non-trivial primitive Pythagorean triplet (5-12-13) and being able to show that none of the three pairwise differences is 2. (Actually that's one thing which annoyed me about the book: his solution is so inelegant).
Simply require disproof and that is still the most elegant solution, but it does require some basic ability to think, "I'll find a counter-example." (It also admits of more interesting proofs). --PT