Five times less

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat May 23 17:24:34 UTC 2009

At 5/23/2009 12:17 PM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>for my suggestion to fly, "times more" and its kin must have come
>before "times less" and its kin.

And as we know, time flies like an arrow.

>though the
>mathematically inclined are likely to notice them (especially "times
>less") and object to them -- while other people have no trouble with
>them -- they should both be judged standard.  (which doesn't mean that
>the mathematically inclined are obliged to use them, but only that
>they shouldn't insist on refusing to understand what other people mean
>by them).

I wouldn't claim that it's non-standard, merely that some phrasings
are mathematically obscure, ambiguous, or meaningless.  Despite the
fact that many writers misstate statistical data -- e.g., "the rate
of unemployment was up 0.4% last month" -- the statements are
"standard".  (In this example, the meaning probably is "the percent
of people unemployed was up 0.4% as compared to the figure one year
ago."  And even then, "people" -- the statistical population to which
the figure applies -- are counted differently by different economic



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