Is it billion or milliard?

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Romi:
Hi,
I know the academic answer concerning the difference between American and British usage as far as 'billion' is concerned. But let's put the old books aside. I'm interested in REAL usage or meaning, like in this article found at random by Google:
http://www.christianaid.org.uk/news/media/pressrel/031023p.htm . I chose this, as it has "uk" in its address, so, I presume, the usage should be British. So, if anyone from Great Britain sees " billion" in the newspaper and has to write the amount in numbers for the inquisitive little grandson, what would she/he actually write?
Now, I noticed that it is not the best example, as grandma or grandpa could be inclined to stick to tradition. So, let's assume this is a British yuppie who has to do the same task for his perplexed girlfriend from Russia Emotion: smile

Thank you in advance
R
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Donna Richoux:
[nq:1]I know the academic answer concerning the difference between American and British usage as far as 'billion' is concerned. But ... the newspaper and has to write the amount in numbers for the inquisitive little grandson, what would she/he actually write?[/nq]
$4,000,000,000.
As far as I've learned from previous discussions, British newspapers have been using "billion" to mean the same as the US billion for about four decades. They also use "thousand million" to mean the same.

You will look long and hard before you find any recent example where UK "billion" is still used to mean the US trillion.
[nq:1]Now, I noticed that it is not the best example, as grandma or grandpa could be inclined to stick to tradition. So, let's assume this is a British yuppie who has to do the same task for his perplexed girlfriend from Russia Emotion: smile[/nq]
This topic recurs frequently. Our Mini-FAQ has this entry:

"billion"

"Billion" is a word which is somewhat ambiguous in U.K. practice, but not in American. For several centuries in Britain, it meant "a million million" (1,000,000,000,000 = 10^12 = US trillion), but in the last two or three decades, publishers have used "billion" to mean "a thousand million" (1,000,000,000 = 10^9 = US billion). The "old" use is still encountered just often enough (in speech, informal writing, and older books) to cause some Britons to be unsure of what the speaker or writer means by it.
The first few U.S. words for large numbers, and the corresponding traditional British terms, are as follows:
U.S. Traditional British
10^6 million million
10^9 billion thousand million or milliard 10^12 trillion billion or million million 10^15 quadrillion thousand billion
10^18 quintillion trillion
Scientists have long preferred to express numbers in figures rather than in words, so it is easy to avoid "billion" in contexts where precision is required. The plural, "billions", is still used freely with the colloquial meaning of "a very large number".
(END QUOTE FROM MINI-FAQ)

Best wishes Donna Richoux
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DE781:
[nq:2]I know the academic answer concerning the difference between American ... for the inquisitive little grandson, what would she/he actually write?[/nq]
[nq:1]$4,000,000,000. As far as I've learned from previous discussions, British newspapers have been using "billion" to mean the same as the US billion for about four decades. They also use "thousand million" to mean the same.[/nq]
"Thousand million" is not unheard of in America either; we use it for dramatic effect. Ditto for "thousand thousand".
[nq:1]You will look long and hard before you find any recent example where UK "billion" is still used to mean the US trillion.[/nq]
WTF? Mono = 1. Bi = 2 (Anne Heche is bisexual because she likes two different people). Tri = 3. Quad = 4. Quint = 5, etc, etc. Where do the British come off with skipping #1 and going straight to #2?
[nq:2]Now, I noticed that it is not the best example, ... the same task for his perplexed girlfriend from Russia Emotion: smile[/nq]
[nq:1]This topic recurs frequently. Our Mini-FAQ has this entry: "billion" "Billion" is a word which is somewhat ambiguous in U.K. practice, but not in American. For several centuries in Britain, it meant "a million million" (1,000,000,000,000 = 10[/nq]^12 = US trillion), but in the last two
[nq:1]or three decades, publishers have used "billion" to mean "a thousand million" (1,000,000,000 = 10[/nq]^9 = US billion). The "old" use is still
[nq:1]encountered just often enough (in speech, informal writing, and older books) to cause some Britons to be unsure of what ... first few U.S. words for large numbers, and the corresponding traditional British terms, are as follows: U.S. Traditional British 10[/nq]^6 million million
[nq:1]10[/nq]^9 billion thousand million or milliard
[nq:1]10[/nq]^12 trillion billion or million million
[nq:1]10[/nq]^15 quadrillion thousand billion
[nq:1]10[/nq]^18 quintillion trillion

So, is a quadrillion in British AKA a "billiard"? Oh, no, wait...that's POOL! Brits are whacker than Carnie Wilson having sex with Jerry Springer!
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Steve Hayes:
[nq:1]Hi, I know the academic answer concerning the difference between American and British usage as far as 'billion' is concerned. ... assume this is a British yuppie who has to do the same task for his perplexed girlfriend from Russia Emotion: smile[/nq]
Since any British yuppies would have been in nappies last time I was in Britain, I'm unable to predict their behaviour, but will not thatr, unlike "billion", "milliard" is unambiguous, and means a US billion.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
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Romi:
[nq:1]This topic recurs frequently. Our Mini-FAQ has this entry:[/nq]
Thanks a lot. Sorry for being such a dummy, but how can I access these Mini-FAQ?
R
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Romi:
OOOps, I have already found it thanks to your kindness a few messages 'later'.
R
U¿ytkownik "Romi" (Email Removed) napisa³ w wiadomo¶ci
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Sean O'Leathlobhair:
^12 = US trillion), but in the last two
[nq:1]or three decades, publishers have used "billion" to mean "a thousand million" (1,000,000,000 = 10[/nq]^9 = US billion). The "old" use is still
[nq:1]encountered just often enough (in speech, informal writing, and older books) to cause some Britons to be unsure of what ... the corresponding traditional British terms, are as follows: U.S. Traditional British 10[/nq]^6 million million
[nq:1]10[/nq]^9 billion thousand million or milliard
[nq:1]10[/nq]^12 trillion billion or million million
[nq:1]10[/nq]^15 quadrillion thousand billion
[nq:1]10[/nq]^18 quintillion trillion
[nq:1]Scientists have long preferred to express numbers in figures rather than in words, so it is easy to avoid "billion" ... The plural, "billions", is still used freely with the colloquial meaning of "a very large number". (END QUOTE FROM MINI-FAQ)[/nq]
I will add a little confirmation from the UK.
Although you will find "milliard" in a dictionary, it is rarely used. In fact, I cannot recall any use except in discussions such as this one. Those who do not like the American billion usually say "thousand million".
As I said in another thread recently, whether we like it or not, whether we even realise it or not, we are falling into like with the US on many language issues. This is an example.
For quite some time, billion and, when it occurs, trillion in financial news have been consistently used in their US senses.

Even outside finance, the US billion is taking over. Ask some people these questions:
"Approximately how many people in the world?"
"Approximately how old is the universe?"
I think that the answers "6 billion" and "15 billion" are likely even from Brits.
There are some pros and cons:
Pro US usage
Consistency between UK and US, this is very valuable

Numbers are shorter, "a billion" rather than "a thousand million". Billion would be rarely used if it retained its old UK sense.

Con US usage
A simpler mathematical pattern to the numbers.
Consistency with old UK usage. (Not very important though my grandfather would always use the old values.)
Less consistency with other European countries.
Maths / Science / Computing
Oddly the question is not very important in these areas since such words are rarely used. Notations such as 3 x 10 ^ 8 is not ambiguous. The prefix Giga is certainly closer to a US billion than a UK billion. Note that I am bit vague but that is because of some odd unrelated computing issues.
Seán O'Leathlóbhair
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LarryLard:
[nq:1]Hi, I know the academic answer concerning the difference between American and British usage as far as 'billion' is concerned. But let's put the old books aside. I'm interested in REAL usage[/nq]
In all my experience, in REAL usage the erstwhile 'British billion' is long gone. Certainly in the past, oh, ten years, the only references to it place it in the past.

Larry Lard
Replies to group please.
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Mike Lyle:
[nq:1]Hi, I know the academic answer concerning the difference between American and British usage as far as 'billion' is concerned. ... aside. I'm interested in REAL usage or meaning, like in this article found at random by Google: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/news/media/pressrel/031023p.htm . [/nq]
You've found the answer now, so just a note.
By "REAL" I think you mean 'current'. The usage in old books is perfectly real, genuine and correct: it's a good idea to retain the older meaning in the back of your mind in case you meet it in one of these 'unreal' old books.
Mike.
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