"and" in numerical expressions

Barbara Need bhneed at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 15 16:34:32 UTC 2009

On 14 May 2009, at 8:48 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> At 8:32 AM -0400 5/14/09, David Bowie wrote:
>> From:    "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>>> At 5/13/2009 03:04 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>>> Joel S. Berson(?) wrote:
>>>>> I do this without "and"s:
>>>>> One hippopotamus
>>>>> Two hippopotamus
>>>>> Three hippopotamus
>>>>> Etc.
>>>> Hmmm.  We always did it with "One Mississippi, Two
>>>> Mississippi,...",
>>>> which like "one thousand and one" has 5 syllables.  But "one
>>>> hippopotamus" has 6.  Did you just say it more quickly?  Sure it
>>>> wasn't "One rhinoceros, two rhinoceros,..."?
>>> (Seven rhinoceros has 6 syllables, though. Let alone the teens.)
>>> I think the hippopotamus notion (wasn't he a Greek philosopher? Or
>>> am
>>> I mixing this up with Euclid?) was that one said it as fast as one
>>> can, and people generally could say it at the same speed, whereas
>>> with other mantras people could speak them at various speeds.  How
>>> true this is I have no idea.  Also, I don't have any association
>>> with
>>> rhinoceri.
>> I grew up with Mississippi as the time-filler of choice. It was most
>> usually used in games of tag football[1] after church, when everyone
>> would agree on a particular time lag (usually 3-Mississippi or
>> 5-Mississippi) from the snap before the quarterback could be
>> rushed. The
>> person (usually just one--there was no offensive line, these were
>> games
>> with usually between four and seven on a team) doing the rushing
>> tried
>> to count off as quickly as possible, but wasn't allowed to skip
>> syllables (i.e., no 1-Miss'ippi, 2-Miss'ippi).
>> The quarterback also wasn't allowed to scramble unless rushed, which
>> actually added a bit of strategy to the defense's plans.
>> [1] You know, if i'd thought about it a while before typing i'd've
>> called it "touch football", but this is what came out naturally. Go
>> figure.
> Yup, same on all counts (NYC, 1950s) except that we didn't play
> touch/tag football after going to church, but after not going to
> temple.

And I count seconds as "one one thousand, two one thousand," etc.

Hmm, I wonder if my seconds are short!


Barbara Need

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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