In article <hb6dnbGzoMy_E8_ZRVn-gg@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
Erik Max Francis <max@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Paul Schlyter wrote:
>> Could you please provide a link to the post where I said that? I
>> just asked Google Groups for all posts which contained the words
>> "billion", "50-50" and "1e9" where I was the author - GG didn't
>> find anything....
> It's pretty routine. Google Groups search for `author:pausch@xxxxxxx
> billion`, sort by date. Third hit:
That post I wrote it in US English, and there "billion" means 1e9.
I adapted to that usage.
> Fourth hit:
Again, the same applies there: that post was written in US English.
> Fifth hit:
Well, that claim is true no matter whether a billion is 1e9 or 1e12.
> Ninth hit:
This message too was written in US English.
> Eleventh hit:
That post doesn't depend on whether billion is 1e9 or 1e12. Searching
all primes up to 1e12 and a bit more was quite doable in 2004 and is
doable today -- of course searching all primes up to 1e9 is even more
> Except for this current thread, the other hits don't really consist of
> you using the term the other way, they're just you quoting other people
> using it. In fact, among the last dozen times you've used the word
> _billion_, I can't find a single instance of you using it to mean 10^12
> (except, as I said, for this current thread, which is the first hit
> since it's the most recent).
You seem to have fallen victim of the idea "...if it's not on Usenet,
it does not exist".
Most of the time I post on Usenet, I post in US English. Posting in a
foreign language means adapting your usage of words which appears in
several languages to its usual meaning of that language. Which means
using "billion" to mean 1e9 rather than 1e12, or using "mile" to mean
1.609 km rather than 10 km ... etc etc.
When I write, or speak, in British English, I've so far used "billion"
to mean 1e12, or I've clarified my meaning when I've used "billion".
Apparently, this has always happened in contexts outside the Usenet,
therefore Google Groups know nothing about it :-) Perhaps I ought to
change this habit, since the usage of "billion" as 1e9 seems to have
become more common in the UK.
When I write, or speak, in some other language I know, I always use
"billion" to mean 1e12. When I speak Swedish I mean 10 km when I say
"mile" (which in Swedish is "mil").
Words have no inherent meaning in themselves -- they get the meaning
we assign to them. They're meant to communicate with others. This
communication gets easier if you try to adapt the meanings of the
words you use to the one you're talking to. So if I go out for a hike
of about 20 km, to a Swedish friend I would afterwards say "I hiked 2
miles", but to you I would say "I hiked 12 miles" -- and I would be
telling the truth both times.
In my native language, Swedish, a billion is 1e12 and a mile is 10 km,
therefore I think they "really" mean that to me, since I was brought
up that way. In most other European languages a billion is 1e12, and
miles aren't used at all. In English a billion is 1e9 (always in the
US, more and more often in the UK) and a mile is 1.609 km - I adapt
to that semantics when talk to English-speaking people.
Btw - how many liters are there in a gallon? Can you get US citizens and
Canadian citizens to agree on that? :-) (the story about why US and
Canadian gallons differ so much is quite interesting - it has to do with
the US getting independent from Britain a few decades before Britain made
a major revision of all its measures, forming what nowadays is called
"the imperial units" - the US still uses the pre-imperial gallon)
Paul Schlyter, Grev Turegatan 40, SE-114 38 Stockholm, SWEDEN
e-mail: pausch at stockholm dot bostream dot se