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Posted in February 2017

On numbers Posted on 8 February 2017 by James Cowan in English language; Proofreading; Writing

Funny things, numbers. The way you write about them can show you up in an amazing fashion. Let's start with percentages. Everybody knows what a percentage is, it's the proportion of a sample that fits a particular profile. "50% of cars are red" means that fifty out of every hundred cars, half of all cars, are red. No ambiguity here. But wait ... there's more! It is possible, under some circumstances, that the percentage quoted may be larger than 100 – for example ... Read more

Jargon 2: All in the ear of the beholder Posted on 18 February 2017 by James Cowan in General Semantics; Jargon

I was recently reminded about an incident in my not-too-distant past when I was confused by what (here, at least) I am prepared to call "inadvertent jargon". This occurred when I found that in a relatively new job, my colleagues were using an acronym whose meaning I knew to mean something entirely different, and specialised. Much of my career was spent working with computers. In this moderately arcane world, there is a commonly-used acronym "TLA", meaning "Three-Letter Acronym". Except in my new ... Read more

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