Date: Apr 30, 2013 3:35 AM
Author: quasi
Subject: Re: the situation is worse than you thought

Martin Brown wrote:
>quasi wrote:
>> RichD wrote:

>>> Yesterday, I was on a college shuttle bus. The driver
>>> was telling a passenger about the alumni donors, that
>>> you have to give a billion $ to get your name on a
>>> monument; "Do you know how much is a billion?
>>> It's about a hundred million"
>>> Are bus drivers allowed to vote? This explains much.

>> In the UK, a billion _is_ equal to 100 million.

>Utter rubbish - that is something daft we tell stupid

Actually, it seems that we Americans (stupid or not) have
managed to get the UK to change _their_ usage (at least
officially) to match ours.

>Milliard was the old English word for modern billion.
>A UK billion was a long time ago a million millions but it
>was fully redefined by Harold Wilson's government in a 1974
>parliamentary answer to match the US (aka international)
>definition. US dictionaries do not seem to have kept pace
>with this "recent" development.

Perhaps dictionaries match current UK common usage.

Laws don't change language usage -- people do.

>In fact both forms of billion existed in the UK up until the
>mid 60's but from 1951 onwards the US definition was becoming
>prevalent in the small circle of people that actually needed
>to use such large numbers.

I suspect UK banks, international corporations, and government
agencies needed greater consistency with their US counterparts.