The second half of 19th century and first half of 20th century are golden age of modern mathematics and science, as many important ideas and theories were proposed and developed within that period of time. I think that German and French were the main languages for the mathematical papers published in that period. After World War II, it is well known that English has gradually become the predominant language for mathematical papers until this date.

I would like to have more statistics such as articles published in major journals in German/French/English/Others between 1850 and 1950 and beyond. Thanks.

  • $\begingroup$ See your previous post : What was the main language in science/mathematics before 1850. The century from 1850 to WWII was the era of Nationalism. Thus, I suppose that the English-German-French triad of the previous century has the leadership. Before and after WWII many German mathematicians moved to US; this means that around 1940 the shift must be dramatically towards English. $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2018 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ “Statistics” have problems discussed at the other question. If you are so inclined, one thing you might try yourself is to sort the MacTutor index (declared “representative”) by language(s) used. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2018 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ See the link in the downvoted answer to that earlier question. It is not statistical but it tells a narrative how World War I resulted in English becoming dominant in science. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2018 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Francois Ziegler, thanks. Jahrbuch is great source, but ends in 1942. I am also looking for after 1942. The search confirms your claim, in the period from 2nd half of 19th to 1st half and 20th centuries, English: 59046, French: 51048, German: 66490. So German leads and not by much. Basically, 3 languages are at same level. $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2018 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ @FrancoisZiegler, well, yes, I disagree with the rather blithe "golden age" phrase, and also with the idea that post-WWII English is "clearly" the dominant language... And with some other more implicit hypotheses. I am a little sensitive to such issues because my PhD students mostly cannot read French or German, and, ahem, not only 30 years ago (well after WWII) but currently there are some important things that are not translated into English... The rather extreme oversimplification that "everything's in English now" (or anyway, we ignore anything that isn't...) is disturbing. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2018 at 23:42

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Here are plots using Jahrbuch for 1870–1940 and Zentralblatt after that. A glance at their detailed output suggests some unreliability (e.g. Zentralblatt counts a paper twice when both reviewed it), but hopefully not too much overall. Papers and books in other languages (Danish, Dutch, Hungarian, Japanese, Latin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish,...) are left out as only after 1980 does their sum total (slightly) surpass Italian.


Zoom on the requested pre-1950 period:


Added: Similar picture from Ammon (2012, p. 338):


  • $\begingroup$ @MathWizard Just the opposite. This is from zbmath (which anyone is free to disbelieve, etc.) $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2018 at 17:29

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