OT Evidence for DECIMATE   ( 'one in ten')

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Jan 9 04:34:18 UTC 2008

The powerful hyphen.  Yes, likely 2 times one decimation, so 20%.


At 1/8/2008 08:50 PM, you wrote:
>A1884: <<when last they were quartered here they were twice-decimated
>>>by cholera, and left a fifth of their regiment in the cemetery here.>>
>>Just a slight quarrel here -- the writer of this needs a re-education
>>in arithmetic.  Successive decimations leave 19 % in the cemetery.
>I tentatively read "twice-decimated" as distinct from "twice
>decimated". I take "twice-decimated" here as probably meaning exactly
>"reduced by 20%" (with of course some leeway either way in casual
>use) rather than as "reduced by 10% on each of two occasions". Maybe
>I'm wrong, though.
>There are several examples of "doubly decimate" which I think
>probably meant "reduced by 20%" also, although some others seem to
>use the imprecise/arbitrary "decimate" (with "doubly" maybe as an
>imprecise intensifier in some cases?) and some others still appear to
>mean "decimate twice in succession".
>-- Doug Wilson
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