The French Member of the English Language Committee of the IMO

The International Mathematics Olympiad is a famous international competition for mathematics students. This is an excerpt from the diary of the Chairman of the English Language Committee (ELC) of the 2005 IMO , Geoff Smith:

In the evening I prepare for the English language committee which I will chair next day. This means I slope off to my room early and try to cast the questions in perfect English myself, in order to have something to start with.  The committee meets first thing in the morning. These days everyone is welcome in the ELC, including its most important member, the leader of France. We like to have simple sentences in IMO questions; ones which ideally can be translated almost word for word into as many languages as possible. French is rather special, and does not allow the rather free word order and grammatical latitude of English. Therefore the English language version has to be designed so that it can be easily translated into French. As each English sentence is suggested, we turn to FRA7, Claude Deschamps, to receive either a blessing (a shrug which indicates that all is well) or a sad shaking of the head which indicates that a particular piece of Anglo-Saxon thuggery simply cannot be expressed in French.”

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