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March 28, 2009


Debra Snider

I should have known it because I know the German word for billion is Milliarde and the word for trillion is Billion, but I never connected the mental dots. Fascinating regional difference!

As for the malapropisms, nice to have them listed in one place. I'll be back whenever I need a laugh.


I never knew that either. So what does this say about Europeans' reactions to all of the economics talk here in the U.S.? When we talk about bailing out companies for billions, do they misinterpret the numbers?


Ooof! Is it possible that the unfortunate word choices were just the result of bad spelling and Spellcheck?

And hey, did you once send around a link to a site that can turn a photo you upload into a "Scanner Darkly"-esque cartoon image? I looked in your archives but couldn't find it. Maybe I'm remembering incorrectly though...

Maureen Potter

I am Canadian , and it never ocurred to me that there was a difference.

We were taught in school that it takes 999+1=1000. Likewise 999,999+1=1,000,000. based on that math it would take 999,999,999+1 to make 1,000,000,000.

Math is math, isn't it?



Yes, the math is the same, but the words used to describe the numbers differ. In the U.S. 1,000,000,000 is a billion, whereas in Canada it's a thousand-million (or a milliard); in the U.S. 1,000,000,000,000 is a trillion, whereas in Canada it's a billion; and so on.


Is the book your editing written for young adults or by a young adult? The number and type of malapropisms is scary to me.

It also gives me a new appreciation for the work you do...!

As for the million/billion thing: now that you mention it, I did know that. But I had forgotten. So, in fact, I didn't know that.


Yes I knew this. Since I work as a translator in Europe this comes up in work from time to time. And your sources are correct, as far as I know, that for written material, corporate communication, and even TV news broadcasts the Brits now say "billion" to mean what the Americans mean by "billion". Fortunately -- it's confusing enough dealing with "first floor" "second floor" let alone having to adjust all big numbers for your readership.
Apparently the old usage in the UK was "thousands, millions, thousand millions, billions, trillions," etc. So all of the big groupings were offset by one from our system. How much bailout money do you need again? Blimey.


I can tell you that as a young adult - and as a not-so-young adult - I've definitely had strong emotions curse through me.


I get to proof a newsletter for our church each month. The last 2 months have had our senior crochet group showing up for croquet instead. I thought there was too much snow to pull that off in February.

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