by the each

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 1 04:32:00 UTC 2014

I suspect, everyone is making it much too complicated. But, as usual, I
could be wrong... ;-)

I've seen this regularly at some stores and not others. At other stores
you might see "per" instead of "by the". Different databases, different
labels. My guess would be that it's just a database artifact. Rather
than programming different text for different types of labels based on
different packaging/weighing options, there is a single code system for
those and the text "by the" is printed with all the units. So you get,
"by the lb", "by the oz", "by the each", "by the 2-pack", "by the case",
etc. This reduces database entries to short labels, or, potentially,
single numbers that represent those labels, e.g., 0=each, 1=lb, 2=oz.,
etc. The clue is that this is the kind of thing you might see at Walgreens.

My personal views that this has little, if any, linguistic significance.


On 1/31/2014 9:46 AM, W Brewer wrote:
> <<banana by the each .24>>
> Looks like a blend of two English constructions, extending (1) to cover (2):
> (1) <buy/sell bananas by the pound, bunch, boatload>;
> (2) <buy/sell bananas 33 cents each>
> Taiwan Chinese store signs & colloquial usage have a single pattern for the
> two contexts:
> Written signs:
> (a) <<Xiangjiao, 32/jin>> 'banana, NT$32/jin'. Roughly, <US$1 for each
> pound of bananas>.
> (b) <<Xiangjiao, 10/zhi>> 'banana, NT$10/zhi. Roughly, <US$.33 for each
> banana>.
> Spoken colloquial:
> (c) <<Xiangjiao yi-jin 32-yuan>> 'banana one-jin NT$32'
> (d1) <<Xiangjiao yi-gen 10-yuan>> 'banana one-MW NT$10' (gen = measure word
> for bananas).
> (d2) <<Xiangjiao mei-gen 10-yuan>> 'banana each-MW NT$10'

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