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  1. #1
    ostap77 is offline Key Member
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    Default $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    "The government spends some $ 4000 million a year.........."

    Why not to say $ 4 billion?

  2. #2
    Coolfootluke is offline Member
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    Default Re: $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    I am not a teacher.

    "Billion" in the US unequivocally means 1,000,000,000. In an international setting, though, "billion" is ambiguous. In British English, it can mean 1,000,000,000,000. If you say "thousand million" or "million million", you will be understood by everybody.

  3. #3
    ostap77 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    Quote Originally Posted by Coolfootluke View Post
    I am not a teacher.

    "Billion" in the US unequivocally means 1,000,000,000. In an international setting, though, "billion" is ambiguous. In British English, it can mean 1,000,000,000,000. If you say "thousand million" or "million million", you will be understood by everybody.
    How does it read than "4 billion" or "4 million million"? I didn't even hear "milliard" from the British.

  4. #4
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    Khosro is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    Quote Originally Posted by ostap77 View Post
    How does it read than "4 billion" or "4 million million"? I didn't even hear "milliard" from the British.
    "Milliarde" is German. They might say "milliarde" or "milliard" in other languages as well. In Iran we say "milliard". "Milliard" is not English as you know.
    Last edited by Khosro; 14-Feb-2011 at 12:46.

  5. #5
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    Quote Originally Posted by Khosro View Post
    Ofcourse you mean "4 tausand million". "Milliarde" is German. They might say "milliarde" or "milliard" in other languages as well. In Iran we say "milliard". "Milliard" is not English as you know.
    "Milliard" used to be used for one thousand million in BrE. It is 18th century French in origin. In modern French it means "million".

  6. #6
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    Default Re: $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    Quote Originally Posted by ostap77 View Post
    "The government spends some $ 4000 million a year.........."

    Why not to say $ 4 billion?
    I'd say it's for emphasis rather than because of ambiguity.
    Many people could relate better to 4000 million than to 4 billion. In fact, you sometimes hear, "The clean-up after the hurricane will cost 4 billion dollars ... that's 4,000 million dollars."

  7. #7
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    It may have been used to achieve greater precision. Even in contexts where 'billion' is accepted as meaning 'a thousand million' - as it is, increasingly in Br Eng (especially in economic and scientific contexts) '4 billion' means 'more than 3.5 billion and less than 4.4 billion' - I think (my maths is long past its sell-by date). A politician might use this to allow himself some statistical 'wiggle room'.

    b

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    I think it could simply be that it sounds bigger in some way- it's a longer number to say and could carry more intonation if spoken or take up more reading time, so it could simply be used for effect.

    PS I think that the British billion has pretty much disappeared- whenever I see the number I think of 1,000 million. In fact, the only times I ever see it mentioned are on discussions about it- I never see it used, though there may still be somee specialised areas that use it.

  9. #9
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: $ 4000 million why not $4 billion

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I think it could simply be that it sounds bigger in some way- it's a longer number to say and could carry more intonation if spoken or take up more reading time, so it could simply be used for effect.
    Good point.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    PS I think that the British billion has pretty much disappeared- whenever I see the number I think of 1,000 million. In fact, the only times I ever see it mentioned are on discussions about it- I never see it used, though there may still be somee specialised areas that use it.
    Me too. I think some people use it as a badge: 'None of this American nonsense for me. I'm British and proud of it.' [Yawn ]

    b

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