# OT:Dialling 1471

The Germans and the Dutch still use the "four and twenty blackbirds" units-before-the-tens notation for counting: "vier und zwanzig Amsel" in German.
They also say phone numbers as pairs of digits with tens-and-units significance - ie "twenty four forty seven", rather than "two four four seven" with pauses every two or three digits.
This gives rise to the hilarious sight of a German person taking down a phone number: they write the digits in the order that they hear them so they write down the 4 of four-and-twenty, then the 2 to the left of it, then forward three spaces, 7 of seven-and-forty, then 4 to the left of it. You'd think that they would mentally buffer the two digits of each group and write them in the opposite order to what they hear, so they are writing continuously left to right, but I've watched several people when I was at meetings in Germany and they do the one step back, three steps forward dance with their pen.
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And why do broadcasters refer to "half of one percent" rather than "nought point five percent" - and yet they are happy to say "three point five percent". For that matter, why do newspapers always use the suffix "pc" for percent: "25pc" rather than "25%", especially in body text rather than headlines?
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Or better 'point 5 percent'. We were taught to not announce and leading zeros.
Cheers, T i m
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Interesting. In the 1970s at school, my maths and science teachers all drummed it into us that numbers with an absolute value less than 1 must always be said and written with a leading 0: "nought point three seven" or "0.37", never "point three seven" or ".37". OK, colloquially the nought gets omitted, but in official verbal or written reports it must always be there. My maths teacher bemoaned that log tables just listed the digits after the decimal point; he felt that all the columns in the tables should be written as 0.1234 etc but accepted that he was being a King Canute on that one ;-)
It was only later, in the sixth form, that we were encouraged in physics and chemistry to wrote numbers in "engineering notation" - a number between 1 and 999 (perhaps with a decimal part as well) multiplied by a power of 10 that was a multiple of three: so 0.37 would be 370 x 10^-3 [units] or 370 milli[units] and 0.0037 would be 3.7 x 10^-3 and not 37 x 10^-4 or 370 x 10^-5 because the last two are not multiple-of-three exponents. This roughly coincided with the changeover of car rev counters from 10, 20, 30 x 100 rpm to 1, 2, 3 x 1000 rpm.
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Likely that one is due to the old linotype machines.
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Did Linotype machines not have a % symbol in their character set? Were there any other commonly-used characters that they didn't have? Obviously they have opening and closing single and double curly quotes, as well as various em and en dashes, which "simple ASCII" doesn't have.
I wonder if the % restriction used to apply a long time ago, and it has become house style for many newspapers even though modern computer typesetting no longer has the restriction.
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They obviously did as they will have also been used for the production books etc. containing of tables.
Using the full term is the standard recommendation in many newspaper style guides* . The ones cited by Wiki are American but the same goes or at least went for English style guides as well.
The reasoning would have been that the limitations imposed by letterpress printing on newsprint, font size, bleeding, etc. meant that the percentage sign might come out as indistinct, as might fractions such as 6/32.
Basically typographers had a big enough problem producing typefaces which were sufficiently legible in newspapers in displaying the standard character set without having worry about percentage signs etc.
Which may no longer be valid in the days of digitised type and improved reproduction but there you go.
* <quote>
It is often recommended that the percent sign only be used in tables and other places with space restrictions. In running text, it should be spelled out as percent or per cent(often in newspapers). For example, not "Sales increased by 24% over 2006", but rather "Sales increased by 24 percent over 2006".[15][16][17]
<quote>
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percent_sign
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The Guardian and Observer house style, quoted as a footnote https://www.theguardian.com/guardian-observer-style-guide-p in that article, says "per cent: % in headlines and copy" so they've been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century ;-)
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Have fun finding it on this keyboard
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ClavierLinotype_20041006-163300.jpg
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Looks like it doesn’t
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ClavierLinotype_20041006-163300.jpg

Dunno. It clearly has some like &

Yep.

Very likely. I found it very had to find the use of pc or % in current newspapers online. Tricky to search for with google.
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On 2019-08-29, NY wrote:

It's even more fun in French:
<http://www.itchyfeetcomic.com/2016/11/cryptic-sequence.html
(cartoon)
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The German four-and-twenty-blackbirds counting is archaic, but the French four-twenties-eleven counting is just plain weird. At least other French-speaking countries have invented some or all of the following: seventy (septante), eighty (huitante) and ninety (nonante).
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certaintly in English people have said "ten score and ten". It's in a nursery rhyme.
--
from KT24 in Surrey, England
"I'd rather die of exhaustion than die of boredom" Thomas Carlyle
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True. I think "three score years and ten" is Biblical in origin (as in "the allotted span of man is three score years and ten" or some such phrase). Surprising that at the time when the King James Bible was written, 70 was regarded as a good age, because we tend to think that living that long is something that only happened in the last 100 years.
It's interesting that English has evolved from four-and-twenty-blackbirds (units before tens) and three-score-and-ten (multiples of twenty rather than 10) but Germanic languages (German and Dutch) still keep blackbird notation, and French still keeps four-twenties-and-eleven notation.
Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic all seem to have English ordering (Google Translate helped there!), as do Scottish and Irish Gaelic by the looks of things. Going further afield, Greek, Polish, Russian, Basque are the same. Arabic *looks* to be units before tens - until you remember that they write from right to left...
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And in some other places too.
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Yes, but it varies a bit from country to country I think.
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Chris Green
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Yes, that's why I said "some or all of", to cover myself. I remember reading a book about WWII where a German spy masquerading as a Belgian-French (or Swiss-French or Luxemburg-French) was unmasked because he used the French-French "quatre-vignts-onze" notation instead of the local variant "nonante-et-un".
Belgium uses septante and nonante, but still quatre-vignts (only adding on 1 to 9, not 10 to 19).
Switzerland uses septante, huitante and nonante. Sensible Swiss!
https://frenchtogether.com/french-numbers/#Are_French_numbers_also_used_in_Belgium_Switzerland_and_Luxembourg says that countries which France colonised (eg Canada and Algeria) still use the French notation, whereas countries that are near France but were not colonised by them have devised simpler alternatives.
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Some years ago (30), in Geneva, I needed to buy a camera battery. It was SF9.99, but despite never rhaving heard the Swiss way of counting before, I knew exactly how much I was asked for
--
from KT24 in Surrey, England
"I'd rather die of exhaustion than die of boredom" Thomas Carlyle
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On 29/08/2019 17:58, NY wrote:

And Diane Abbot can count up to eleventy seven
--
Climate Change: Socialism wearing a lab coat.

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On Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 4:01:24 PM UTC+1, NY wrote:

And if you agree to meet them at 'half 5' they'll be there at 4:30....
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