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Re: ngettext() not enough?

From: Chuck Swiger
Subject: Re: ngettext() not enough?
Date: Sun, 17 Jul 2005 12:36:03 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.8) Gecko/20050511

John.Cowan wrote:
Bob Proulx scripsit:
[ ... ]
Actually, no, in American English at least it would still be "zero
point one degrees".

Absolutely; I didn't express myself too well.  I'm saying that if someone says
"one point zero degrees" *because* he says "zero degrees", i.e. because the
word "zero" precedes the word "degree(s)", then I would expect that
*by the same token* they would say "zero point one degree" -- which is of course
not the case.

I continue to think "one point zero degrees" unacceptable if not outright
ungrammatical, though obviously native speakers don't all agree on this point.

I would read a measurement of 1.0 as plural, unless that value was known to be exact, perhaps by definition. At least as far as a scientist or an engineer is concerned, floating point numbers are implicitly plural because they are almost always not exact.

For example, pure water has a density of "one gram per cubic centimeter" (exact), but if you weigh some tap water, it would be read as having a density of "one point zero grams per cc" (plural), because that measurement reflects a limited precision of the real value, which might be 1.0004 or whatever, depending on the trace concentrations of salt and lead and suchlike which are in the water.


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