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I have to do a quick mental calculation when someone mentions "Year 9" or some such thing if I want ... system got reset to "1" when we left juniors at 11 and then went to the "big school" (comprehensive/ seniors).

I can't quite remember exactly how it worked, but it was something on the lines of three(?) years in "the infants", followed by four(?) years of "juniors". I'm not sure that I've worked that out right. Anyway, after that was indeed the "big school". Mine called itself a secondary. After I left it became Grant Maintained and most of the staff left as a result (including, of course, the best teachers); what it is now, I have no idea. I suppose these day it'll have a website...

Andrew Gwilliam
To email me, replace "bottomless pit" with "silverhelm"
Dylan Nicholson wrote on 19 Aug 2004:
Dylan Nicholson wrote on 19 Aug 2004: There are two ... is ten to twenty times larger than it was then.

Except that that's not really answering the question "how much smaller". If there were confusion or ambiguity over what "10 times smaller" meant, I'd agree that it would be best avoided. But illogical as it may be, it serves a purpose.

Well, I am a medical editor, and this kind of phrasing is not allowed in discriminating medical journals (1), because it's math and not simply English. The M-WDEU rejects my argument and uses yours for everyday speech. I won't argue about everyday speech or even the formal prose of those not writing about science and math: those are worlds where anything goes as long as it's "understood". This is a case in point. It's illogical to the extreme, but language isn't logical, and everyone knows that it means something other than what it is trying to say, so it becomes an idiomatic expression. Isn't that what I said in a footnote? Yes, it is. And there you have it, folks. Another day, another day, it's just, it's just.

(1) The editors and publishers of some medical journals don't seem to care about anything but the data.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
For email, replace numbers with English alphabet.
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No, and it has always struck me a generally bizarre. ... are encouraged to at least attempt to behave like adults.

Wrt drinking, though, that's a consequence of the raising of the age limit to 21 by governments (itself largely the ... undergraduate colleges and universities as in their BrE counterparts, since the drinking-age laws are not really enforced in college-campus settings.

That's a bit misleading. Any bar in any college town rigorously "cards" patrons. Many bars will allow under-age people *in* the bar, but not allow them to drink. In this college town (University of Central Florida, Rollins College and several junior colleges) bars that admit minors hand-stamp patrons to show if they can be served or provide color-coded plastic bracelets. A bar that serves alcohol to minors will be quickly closed down.
Drinking is done at private gatherings. Here, and in Gainesville (University of Florida) and Tallahassee (Florida State University), fraternities and sororities do no allow drinking on premises. It wasn't allowed at Indiana University in the 50s, either.

Under-age students drink, but drinking-age laws are vigorously enforced.
As for high schools, all that rah-rah-rah, cheerleaders, lettermen, homecoming ... it utterly embarrassing. There's a cultural divide there. all right.

It's not necessarily a divide that should be admired, though. It just never got started in the UK. Sending twelve-year-olds off to boarding school, school ties, short pants, attending Wickersham because your father did, and fagging for upperclassmen never got started over here. Customs evolve, but they don't not evolve because the students are too sophisticated to allow them to.
Teenage students don't get embarrassed because the act itself is embarassing..they get embarrassed because doing anything that hasn't been done before is embarrassing. Start any "rah-rah" practice in any English school, and it will embarrass the first three classes. By the fourth year, it will be "tradition".
I've never really figured out this "majoring in X" business either;

Well, Coop majored in business at I.U., so when he gets his power restored he can explain it.

It's no stranger than saying "He read classics" when you mean he majored in literature.
What do the LSE say they're doing? "Reading economics"?
On 19 Aug 2004 01:49:01 GMT, CyberCypher
Richard Maurer wrote on 19 Aug 2004:

Then consider that populations were about 10 to 20 times smaller.

Now, that is something to think seriously about:

I have many times, Franke. That juggled way of comparing things has always bothered me. Stamp it out, I say.

Charles Riggs
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
It's no stranger than saying "He read classics" when you mean he majored in literature. What do the LSE say they're doing? "Reading economics"?

Probably better that people just "read" economics, than practice them. Now, where did I put my Argentine pesos?

Andrew Gwilliam
To email me, replace "bottomless pit" with "silverhelm"
Curious. That "goes into" would seem to be a cognate of New York CityE "gazinta", unless it's one of those purely coincidental things.

It struck me the other day when you mentioned it. I think it's the same expression, not a coincidence.

You wouldn't want to get it confused with a "gazunder" though.

Andrew Gwilliam
To email me, replace "bottomless pit" with "silverhelm"
Well, Coop majored in business at I.U., so when he gets his powerrestored he can explain it.

It's no stranger than saying "He read classics" when you mean he majored in literature. What do the LSE say they're doing? "Reading economics"?

That's what students at LSE might say formally, but it's slightly old-fashioned : they'd probably in fact say simply "I'm doing economics". By the way, they might not be doing economics at all, or at least not as their principal subject. The LSE is "The London School of Economics and Political Science", and teaches a lot more than economics or even politics (see www.lse.ac.uk).
"He read classics" is more specific than "He majored in literature". It means "He studied the ancient Greek and Latin languages and their literature". Probably the course would also have included a good deal of Greek and Roman history and philosophy, read in the original languages. At Oxford, "Greats" means this kind of course but, in its last two years, expanded to cover philosophy of all periods. "Modern Greats" is the old term for what's now called PPE - philosophy, politics and economics, two of which the student can focus on as principal fields of study.

The term "to major in X" remains slightly obscure to me. Is the implication that the student is also "minoring" in other subjects?

Alan Jones
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It's not necessarily a divide that should be admired, though. It just never got started in the UK. Sending twelve-year-olds ... in any English school, and it will embarrass the first three classes. By the fourth year, it will be "tradition".

Oh, I totally agree. I wasn't trying to infer any "cultural superiority" - I consider the "boarding school, school ties, short pants, attending Wickersham because your father did, and fagging" stuff just as bizarre as the US "traditions". I was just musing on what is actually a fairly major difference between the US and UK.
Mike M
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