Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Evening Sky(line)

That's St Paul's Cathedral on the right.

I worked the lunch and dinner shifts today. In the intervening hours between shifts, I went for a drink with Tony, the head chef.

On most days when I have double shifts, I tend to drink coffee with Tony. The first time, he paid for the drinks, so the second time around, I naturally bought them. A pattern emerged, and soon seemed quite natural to pay alternately.

We were waiting for the tram to take us into the city when we spotted Henny, a regular weekday lunch waitress. And yes, she’s Indonesian, hence the name. So Henny came along for coffee.

Conversation was awkward.
Imagine a situation where 2 multilingual people are talking in the language of their choice, say, Cantonese. They are then joined by another person who does not speak Cantonese, but operates well on another language they can work with, Swahili, maybe.

And so it is common courtesy to switch from Cantonese to Swahili so that no one is completely out of the loop, even though the first two may not be extremely well versed in Swahili.

Our situation was not quite as simple. Henny is good at Indonesian/Malay, ok with English, and not so good in Chinese. Tony, on the other hand, is good at Chinese, ok with Malay/Indonesian, and not so good in English. Yee Wei, on the third hand, is good at English, ok with Chinese, and not so good in Indonesian/Malay.

Represented in a grid, a matrix, a tensor:

Oh look, the tensor exhibits a diagonal trend!
Let’s try to represent this tensor in a more concise notation:

If you’re already thinking ‘what the fuck!’, worry not. I typed that exact phrase a moment ago before deleting it. Back to the matter at hand. Before going back to the matter at hand, I just want to say I feel empowered by symbols. Hence the triple-barred equality (congruence), inverted ‘A’ (for all) and rounded ‘E’ (that is/are an element of the set). Wait, another confession. I had actually thought of putting the Kronecker Delta into the definition, but that will spawn whole lot more complexity involving a third index, making the notation not concise at all.

That's Henny and Tony

In hindsight, it was amusing (the conversation, not the symbols). Complicated phrases and abstract concepts had to be parsed translated before full comprehension can be achieved all round.





There is nothing interesting to translate here. Just a half hearted effort to write something. Brain not working; off to bed!

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