. . . times lower than . . .

sagehen sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Tue Sep 4 20:56:14 UTC 2007

>I can't tell whether this sounds familiar to me or not!  Either way, I
>agree it's stupid.
>  JL
>Laurence Urdang <urdang at SBCGLOBAL.NET> wrote:
>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: Laurence Urdang
>Subject: . . . times lower than . . .
>>>From a letter in today's Daily Telegraph:
>". . . the murder rate in London is five times lower than some cities in
>the United States . . ."
>I am not interested in the source or in the sense but in this typical use
>of times that has sprung up in the past couple of decades (according to my
>observation) with the meaning 'one nth': in the present instance, in my
>dialect (!) I should have said, ". . . is one fifth (of) that in some
>I cannot conceive how or why times, which is an indication of
>multiplication, not division, has come to mean its opposite.
>Am I the only English speaker on earth who has noticed this or is bothered
>by it? I have never seen another comment on it.
>A typical context would be, "The average temperature at the Antarctic is
>five times lower than [that] at the Arctic." [Forget about the truth of
>the statement, for grammar and truth are unrelated.]
>In other words, instead of using the appropriate fraction or percentage
>indicated, 'one quarter of' becomes "four times lower than," 'one third
>of' becomes "three times less than," etc.
>L. Urdang
>Old Lyme
 I can remember being exasperated by some radio announcer's blithely saying
"It'll be twice as cold tonight (meaning -4šF instead of -2šF) as last
night.".....as if cold were a quantifiable substance.  But that was years
ago & many other exasperations have intervened & smothered it!

~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>

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