Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 02-08-2009, 11:22 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
Where did the "%100" usage of the percent sign come from?

I've been noticing more and more people placing the percent sign in front of the number instead of after it: "%100" instead of "100%". I've even seen it used this way in programs, and here on the SDMB.

Where did this usage come from? Is it a regional or non-English usage that has made its way to these Canadian shores?
#2
Old 02-08-2009, 11:26 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,407
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
I've been noticing more and more people placing the percent sign in front of the number instead of after it: "%100" instead of "100%". I've even seen it used this way in programs, and here on the SDMB.

Where did this usage come from? Is it a regional or non-English usage that has made its way to these Canadian shores?
I can't say I've ever seen it; what I've noticed instead, though, is people for whom English is a first language writing "100$" instead of "$100".
#3
Old 02-08-2009, 11:48 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
I can't say I've ever seen it; what I've noticed instead, though, is people for whom English is a first language writing "100$" instead of "$100".
I'm willing to bet that they're from Quebec; that's a common usage there. It's ultimately from the French.

It corresponds to the spoken English phrasing more accurately as well, and is similar to the way we write other units ("15 kg", for example). The "$ 100" usage is actually less logical IMO.
#4
Old 02-09-2009, 12:25 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,926
Never seen it before. Just one more annoying thing to throw on the pile.

Joe
#5
Old 02-09-2009, 12:56 AM
Charter Member
Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 77,479
It's probably based off of the dollar-sign thing. I can remember that there's one of those above-the-numbers symbols that goes on the wrong side of the numbers it's next to, but I have to stop and think to remember which one it is. Why is "One hundred dollars" written as "$100", anyway?
#6
Old 02-09-2009, 01:34 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 4,930
There is a lack of standardisation in (particularly) Europe regarding the use of the decimal place (a comma can be used), so an unambiguous form that is increasingly used is unit<symbol>decimal - so 5€49 is very (and increasingly) common. I have yet to see this in the UK 5£99, but I am sure it will follow.

To be fair, though, this notation was common in electronics for a very long time - 1K5 for a 1500 ohm resistor (British Standard 1852, from 1974).

Si
#7
Old 02-09-2009, 01:59 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,407
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
I'm willing to bet that they're from Quebec; that's a common usage there. It's ultimately from the French.

It corresponds to the spoken English phrasing more accurately as well, and is similar to the way we write other units ("15 kg", for example). The "$ 100" usage is actually less logical IMO.
That's possible but Australia isn't noted for its high population of Quebecois.

And don't get me started on the whole "comma versus decimal point" thing, either- IMO the ONLY acceptable decimal place marker in English is the Decimal Point and I don't care what the EU has to say on the subject unless they're agreeing with me.
#8
Old 02-09-2009, 02:15 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: San Diego, CA (UCSD)
Posts: 10,038
Decimal place markers are a matter of paralinguistic convention. It's almost as silly to demand that everyone uses yours as it is to ask the Spanish to throw away all that upside-down punctuation for your own convenience.

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist

Last edited by Hostile Dialect; 02-09-2009 at 02:16 AM.
#9
Old 02-09-2009, 02:24 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,407
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hostile Dialect View Post
Decimal place markers are a matter of paralinguistic convention. It's almost as silly to demand that everyone uses yours as it is to ask the Spanish to throw away all that upside-down punctuation for your own convenience.

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist
I said in English. If the French and the Spanish and the Italians and the Germans want to use commas for decimal places, fine. But as soon as it's translated into English, I expect to see a decimal point there.
#10
Old 02-09-2009, 03:06 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: U.K.
Posts: 12,068
Just so you do not think you are going crazy, I also saw the %100 thing somewhere very recently. I can't for the life of me remember where, but if I was forced at knifepoint to guess, I would say it was actually on these boards. If so, perhaps the person who does it will come along and explain. I certainly have no idea where it comes from or why. It is quite new to me and, unlike 100$, it does not even correspond to the way we say percentages. It did not seem to be an error though. I think it occurred more than once in the same piece.

Last edited by njtt; 02-09-2009 at 03:07 AM.
#11
Old 02-09-2009, 04:39 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 6,223
I use the % sign so infrequently that I often type %100 rather than 100%, when typing quickly, only to have to correct it upon proofreading. Having one set of symbols that go to the right of a number, and another to the left, is pretty stupid, though.
#12
Old 02-09-2009, 06:23 AM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
I did a search on "%100" here on these boards: http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/...archid=4067435. There were a surprising number of hits.
#13
Old 02-09-2009, 06:48 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Wisconsin USA
Posts: 16,843
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
I did a search on "%100" here on these boards: http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/...archid=4067435. There were a surprising number of hits.
Teh will come up a surprising number of time, but it's still wrong. %100 is wrong too.
#14
Old 02-09-2009, 07:03 AM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
Teh will come up a surprising number of time, but it's still wrong. %100 is wrong too.
Perhaps. It's just often enough that I wondered whether it isn't wrong... somewhere.
#15
Old 02-09-2009, 07:14 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Wisconsin USA
Posts: 16,843
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
Perhaps. It's just often enough that I wondered whether it isn't wrong... somewhere.
I was commenting on the fact that when it shows up on the message board it doesn't make it correct. In the USA it's wrong. In some other country it might be correct.
#16
Old 02-09-2009, 08:30 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: San Diego, CA (UCSD)
Posts: 10,038
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord
Teh will come up a surprising number of time, but it's still wrong. %100 is wrong too.
So is the plural of "time" without an 's'. But can you show me your crown, O Language King?

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist
#17
Old 02-09-2009, 10:16 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,741
In ancient times (I was born in 1949) schoolteachers told us #12 is "number twelve, and 12# is "twelve pounds. I don't know when that fell out of fashion, but it's rare today. More often, you hear people ask why "the pound key" is called that. Some know to call it an octothorp, but others think Octothorp was one of the early settlers in the state of Georgia.
#18
Old 02-09-2009, 10:23 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Portman Road
Posts: 17,369
Quote:
Originally Posted by AskNott View Post
Some know to call it an octothorp...
There's no single 'correct' name for it. See here for some of the options.
#19
Old 02-09-2009, 10:27 AM
SDSAB
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: my Herkimer Battle Jitney
Posts: 76,554
Never seen it. I would assume it's a typo, if it weren't apparently so widespread. But it's wrong, IMHO.
#20
Old 02-09-2009, 11:07 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Posts: 3,149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
I'm willing to bet that they're from Quebec; that's a common usage there. It's ultimately from the French.

It corresponds to the spoken English phrasing more accurately as well, and is similar to the way we write other units ("15 kg", for example). The "$ 100" usage is actually less logical IMO.
Many languages actually place the currency symbol after the value. Australia being a mainly English-speaking country, I'd assume $100 would be the most common form, but many Australians, possibly those who do business with people in Asia (?), may have acquired the forms 100$ or 100 $.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia on Currency sign
When writing currency amounts the location of the sign varies by currency. Many currencies, especially in Latin America and the English-speaking world, place it before the amount (e.g., £50.00); many others place it after the amount (e.g., 50.00 S₣); and, before they were abolished, the sign for the Portuguese Escudo and the French Franc were placed in the decimal position (i.e., 50$00 or 12₣34). The standardized European default placement, used in absence of a national standard, is that (€) is placed before the amount. However, many Eurozone countries have sustained or generated alternative conventions.
#21
Old 02-09-2009, 11:11 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Hither and yon
Posts: 1,089
Quote:
Originally Posted by AskNott View Post
In ancient times (I was born in 1949) schoolteachers told us #12 is "number twelve, and 12# is "twelve pounds. I don't know when that fell out of fashion, but it's rare today. More often, you hear people ask why "the pound key" is called that. Some know to call it an octothorp, but others think Octothorp was one of the early settlers in the state of Georgia.
Really? I use 12# all the time. I had it beaten into me when I was learning structural engineering, since there were a LOT of pound forces to deal with, and it's a little more recognizable than lb. Now I use it in my grocery lists, too. In fact, I don't think I use #12 at all, only 12#.
#22
Old 02-09-2009, 11:19 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 754
FWIW, I'm a current engineering student, and I've only seen "#" to represent "pound force" in one class, and that was taught by a very old professor (he had to be at least 70). In all my other classes we've used "lb." or "lbf."
#23
Old 02-09-2009, 11:27 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 22,536
Obviously they mean that 100 is stored as a double-length integer.
#24
Old 02-09-2009, 12:14 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
Quote:
Originally Posted by runcible spoon View Post
Really? I use 12# all the time. I had it beaten into me when I was learning structural engineering, since there were a LOT of pound forces to deal with, and it's a little more recognizable than lb. Now I use it in my grocery lists, too. In fact, I don't think I use #12 at all, only 12#.
Huh. We never used # to represent pounds. Admittedly, we mostly use newtons and such, but if we did use pounds, it was abbreviated lb.

I only started hearing 'pound' for # in the context of phone-answering systems within the last ten years or so (the "pound key") and suspect that it survives here because it is one syllable to match 'star' for *, and because much of our phone equipment was made in the States.

Last edited by Sunspace; 02-09-2009 at 12:16 PM. Reason: Quoted the wrong guy!
#25
Old 02-09-2009, 12:54 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Elsewhere
Posts: 5,607
If I bought school supplies in bulk, I'd ask for 2# of #2 pencils.
#26
Old 02-09-2009, 01:13 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 10,310
Quote:
Originally Posted by Q.E.D. View Post
Obviously they mean that 100 is stored as a double-length integer.
No no, they clearly were trying to find the remainder of the integer value of their post and 100.

In all seriousness, in 3rd grade I was taught %number is correct, I haven't used it since... eh... 3rd grade, but some people may be taught that way, for whatever reason.
#27
Old 02-10-2009, 12:36 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,407
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
If I bought school supplies in bulk, I'd ask for 2# of #2 pencils.
You'd ask for Two Hash of No. 2 Pencils?
#28
Old 02-10-2009, 12:58 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 104
Huh. I always assumed that '#' was called "the pound sign" because whenever some blasted recorded voice on a telephone asked you to use it, you were nearing the point of wanting to pound that mark into the forehead of the owner of said voice.

And, as a bonus for your troubles, you could use it to mean "number __"
#29
Old 02-10-2009, 10:33 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 33,457
In India, the currency abbreviation can go either before or after the amount and it is read as written. If it is written "Rs. 50," then they read it "rupees fifty." If it is written "50 Rs.," then they read it as "fifty rupees."
#30
Old 02-10-2009, 11:41 AM
Mod Rocker
Moderator
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 40,589
You may use # into indicate a number of things, (each getting a unique name), as the Willard Espy poem I have posted a few times indicates:

Many offices encumber
My diurnal rounds;
#31
Old 02-10-2009, 05:20 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Sydney
Posts: 1,075
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
That's possible but Australia isn't noted for its high population of Quebecois.
I bought a Quebec Nordiques guernsey at a second-hand shop in Newtown. I have since established that the number of Quebecois ex-pats in Sydney is higher than you'd think.

I think I've given most of them tetanus trying to speak French at them.
#32
Old 02-10-2009, 06:37 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,407
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigNik View Post
I bought a Quebec Nordiques guernsey at a second-hand shop in Newtown. I have since established that the number of Quebecois ex-pats in Sydney is higher than you'd think.
I'll take your word on it; I don't live in Sydney.

Quote:
I think I've given most of them tetanus trying to speak French at them.
Someone at my previous job discovered I had spent several years learning French in High School and had visited France a couple of times, and I ended up as the Designated France-Talking Guy whenever we'd get tourists from New Caledonia or Tahiti in (which was surprisingly often).

French has never been a particularly popular language to learn in Australia for some reason, so being able to tell a tourist from New Caledonia that Une carte de la mémoire 1gb pour un appareil photo digital coûte $45 was an excellent way to make sales for us. But my French accent is atrocious, and they had this odd mixture of horror and relief on their faces when I started talking to them- "Mon Dieu! What has he done with our beloved language?!" quickly giving way to "Wait, he speaks French! That means he can help us get Papa's digital camera working again! Hurrah!"

But yeah, I know what you mean.
#33
Old 02-10-2009, 06:58 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Sydney
Posts: 1,075
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
French has never been a particularly popular language to learn in Australia for some reason,
Of the dead languages it's probably more popular than Classical Greek, less so than Latin.

Quote:
so being able to tell a tourist from New Caledonia that Une carte de la mémoire 1gb pour un appareil photo digital coûte $45 was an excellent way to make sales for us. But my French accent is atrocious, and they had this odd mixture of horror and relief on their faces when I started talking to them- "Mon Dieu! What has he done with our beloved language?!" quickly giving way to "Wait, he speaks French! That means he can help us get Papa's digital camera working again! Hurrah!"
Similar experience on the opposite side of the coin - a friend had encouraged me to come on a cruise for which I still haven't forgiven him and we were in Noumea for the day. I was approached by a guy with a stupid hat, an unfolded map, a phrasebook and a Kiwi accent who started off "Pardonney moy, munser, ou est ler..."

I broke in - "Would it be easier to do this in English, mate?"

His face lit up. He was over the moon. Suddenly high on life.

"That'd be great! Could you tell me where the Place des [pronounced "Pless dus"] Cocotiers is?"

"No idea, sorry - I only got here ten minutes ago."

I don't think I've ever seen someone's face reflect so total a reversal of fortune in less than thirty seconds.
#34
Old 02-10-2009, 08:51 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigNik View Post
Of the dead languages it's probably more popular than Classical Greek, less so than Latin.
Hé! Je ressemble à cette rémarque! I just have to keep remembering that not everywhere is French as politically important as in Canada.

Last edited by Sunspace; 02-10-2009 at 08:51 PM.
#35
Old 02-10-2009, 08:55 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigNik View Post
"That'd be great! Could you tell me where the Place des [pronounced "Pless dus"] Cocotiers is?"

"No idea, sorry - I only got here ten minutes ago."

I don't think I've ever seen someone's face reflect so total a reversal of fortune in less than thirty seconds.
I had an experience like that in Vancouver.

I had just gotten off the bus from Banff and met my friend. We leave the terminal, walk across the park, and enter the Skytrain station. My friend is explaining the ticket machine to me, when I hear a voice from behind me. It's a local reporter doing a feature on the transit system. "Would you like to give us your impression of the Skytrain?" "I'd be glad to, but this is the first time I've ever been on it and I just got here five minutes ago...".
#36
Old 02-10-2009, 08:56 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Sydney
Posts: 1,075
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
Hé! Je ressemble à cette rémarque! I just have to keep remembering that not everywhere is French as politically important as in Canada.
OK, OK, that line was extracting the urine.

But in high school it's actually pretty much treated like one. It's not seen as a "business" language (viz. Japanese, Mandarin, German, Korean) or a "neighbourhood" language (Indonesian, Vietnamese, putting on bad New Zealand accents) so the kids that do it at school tend to do it because they're either French or second-generation (i.e. free marks) or they do it for the same reason one would do Latin or Classical Greek.
#37
Old 02-10-2009, 09:04 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigNik View Post
OK, OK, that line was extracting the urine.

But in high school it's actually pretty much treated like one. It's not seen as a "business" language (viz. Japanese, Mandarin, German, Korean) or a "neighbourhood" language (Indonesian, Vietnamese, putting on bad New Zealand accents) so the kids that do it at school tend to do it because they're either French or second-generation (i.e. free marks) or they do it for the same reason one would do Latin or Classical Greek.
Here, every English-speaker gets French in public school. It's mandatory. I presume French-speakers get English, but given the political realities of Quebec, I wouldn't be certain about that. In English-speaking areas, a lot of people send their kids to French immersion, and rely on the surrounding culture to give them English.

The arguments start over third languages. When I was in high school, the third language was German. I looked at the website and course catalogue of my high school, and these days the third language is Spanish, which I find rather interesting. A lot of people study the languages of their families (Chinese, Punjabi, etc, etc.) or of their new SO. Language geeks tend to take things like Latin, or Japanese (along with the really serious anime geeks). Then there are the loons who study Esperanto.
#38
Old 02-11-2009, 02:34 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: San Diego, CA (UCSD)
Posts: 10,038
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace
I had just gotten off the bus from Banff
Not only is it a perfectly serviceable place name, but Banff also makes a great written sound effect.

"Pow! Splot! BANFF!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace
Language geeks tend to take things like Latin, or Japanese (along with the really serious anime geeks). Then there are the loons who study Esperanto.
I'm a Linguistics major, so I totally understand that those two groups are not mutually exclusive. (You should see some of my friends.) But I figure you'd have to be a language geek to study Esperanto. I mean, I'm fascinated by the minutae of syntax and morphology and even I can't pretend to care about Esperanto.

Wait--what the hell? They taught Esperanto at your high school? Man, Canada is weird/awesome.

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist
#39
Old 02-11-2009, 01:42 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Posts: 3,149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
I presume French-speakers get English
Of course we do. When I was in school, ESL courses started in fourth grade, but today it's in first grade. There has been talk to teach some classes (history, math) in English even in French-language schools, but I don't know if this will lead to anything. And some have even suggested Quebec move from dual French- and English-language school systems to a single system with something like 70% of school time in French and 30% in English. I think it'd be a great idea, but I don't know if it's even constitutional.

Quote:
When I was in high school, the third language was German. I looked at the website and course catalogue of my high school, and these days the third language is Spanish, which I find rather interesting.
My high school offered Spanish as a third language. My cégep gave the choice between Spanish and German. But learning a third language isn't compulsory in schools here. I expect most francophone Quebecers who learn a third language will learn Spanish, seeing how it is a major North American language and it has many similarities with French. I did learn some Spanish, but not much and since I never use it, I'm not going to become any good at it. I think it's the same for you guys and French: as you said you learn it in school, but if you don't use it afterward you soon lose it all.
#40
Old 02-11-2009, 01:57 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Near the GT eeehhhh...
Posts: 27,575
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hostile Dialect View Post
I'm a Linguistics major, so I totally understand that those two groups are not mutually exclusive. (You should see some of my friends.) But I figure you'd have to be a language geek to study Esperanto. I mean, I'm fascinated by the minutae of syntax and morphology and even I can't pretend to care about Esperanto.

Wait--what the hell? They taught Esperanto at your high school? Man, Canada is weird/awesome.
I wish. Sadly, we're not that awesome. I had to wait till college for that*. They did have a book on Japanese in the high-school library, though.

HJ, I'm expecting more and more high schools to offer Chinese. So far, my old high school hasn't. But there are so many private language schools out there that maybe they're taking up the slack.

*Sheridan College had a book on Esperanto. I got into it for about three days in 1984, then I had an exam or something and totally forgot about it for fifteen years. Then I found Esperanto again on the net and now I speak it.

Last edited by Sunspace; 02-11-2009 at 01:59 PM.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:15 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: capped teeth funny cottage names sweaty nipples 1970s variety shows sucralose cavities glow hands sodastream bottle expiration never shut up akiane kramarik fake lawn sheep gallbladder transplant deodorize drain is mirror a reliable source how are peanuts salted in the shell country with longest name angel of the morning chrissie hynde tiger stripe camo effectiveness red and white scarf arab usb device not recognized windows 7 nothing plugged in water meter spinning no water running removing wax from hair how to remove deodorant buildup from clothes