Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2008 May 2

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May 2[edit]

Writing numbers[edit]

Why do some writers of some documents (and some Wikipedia articles too) put a number followed by writing out that number in words or vice-versa? For example: "There are 7 (seven) days in a week" or "I have four (4) fingers on my hand". Astronaut (talk) 00:23, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

I believe spelling it out that way is for security, as the reader normally can't tell if there's a typo in a number. But if it's already spelled out, I don't see any point to adding the numerals. kwami (talk) 00:44, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Well I could imagine that something that is security or safety critical might want to spell out numbers to reduce the likelyhood of error (eg. "The warhead is held in place by sixteen retaining bolts"). Astronaut (talk) 01:02, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but then why add "(16)" to it? Unless that helps people who are skim reading the manual? kwami (talk) 01:37, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
The two forms of the number confirm each other. It's easy to mistype a digit or and it's also surprisingly easy to leave out a whole word. If you see "sixteen (17)" or "sixteen (16,000)" then you know something's wrong. (In the first case probably 16 is meant; in the second case probably 16,000; but the point is that in either case you'll ask for the number to be corrected.)
In my experience the most common type of document where this is done is a check whenever it is handwritten or typed rather than computer-printed; see the examples in that article. Customs in other countries may be different. --Anonymous, 04:10 UTC, May 2, 2008.
I can't think of any reason to do this in a Wikipedia article, but perhaps if you can point us to an example, we can rationalize it.--Shantavira|feed me 07:08, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
As far as cheques go it is for two reasons, to prevent errors and to prevent fraud. If you just write £50 quickly it could look like £30, and some people's 4's and 9's can be confusing. Similarly if I just write "Fifty pounds" in a quick scrawl it could look line "Fifteen pounds". Writing both serves as a quick check that both have been read correctly. Also, if a forger wants to change a value they have to change it in two places. -- Q Chris (talk) 08:02, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Yep. The problem is worse when writing in Chinese, but Chinese numerals has details on the solution. --Kjoonlee 08:58, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
This question came from this edit I made yesterday. I couldn't fathom a good reason for anyone to write "eight" and "8" in that article, and it got me thinking that I had seen it in several places elsewhere (including on Wikipedia a long while ago). Personally, in normal writing I tend to write small numbers (up to sixteen perhaps) in words because I think it looks better on the page, but use numerals for bigger values. Astronaut (talk) 18:51, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
...use numerals for bigger values. And some poor sod has to change all your dots into commas and vice versa to make it work in their computer system. Lisa4edit (talk) 08:14, 3 May 2008 (UTC) dots... Why do you think I would use dots for anything other than a decimal point? Astronaut (talk) 13:00, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
You may be using them for decimal points, but if the aforementioned "poor sod" works at a company in lets say Europe , then your numbers will have to be converted before they can be entered in their tables or publications. Mostly that is done by software these days, but there are cases where it's still done manually. E.g. when the internet was sill a lot younger banks that pulled data off "Reuters" had to dedicate one of their systems to US setting "." and then convert the data to "," before using it. (OR, done that. :-) Lisa4edit (talk) 08:53, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned but it is very common, almost obligatory, to write numbers like this in legal documents. This is to prevent any doubt and possibility of alteration. It seems a bit pointless to do this online though; might be just force of habit with certain editors I guess. Sandman30s (talk) 22:04, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Can I person get a high school diploma if I take a placement test[edit]

I failed,and I just want to know if I can get a high school diploma if I take a placement test?In August 2008,I will study to go to the twelth grade.Then I plan to take the placement test in March 2008,go to high school without failing in August 2009,finish high school in May 28, 2010, and get a high school diploma.I live in Louisiana,and my mom said that the placement test in Louisiana is for people who want a GED ,and that I can't take it in New Iberia.She also said that if I go to St.Martinville to take the placement test that I wouldn't be allowed in the right grade that I am supposed to be in after I take the placement test in St.Martinville and go to school in NewIberia.Is she lying?I want to get out of school ASAP.My sister took the placement test and I'm not sure if she will get a GED or highschool diploma.I also noticed that there are no pages about placement tests in wikipedia.I know it will take a long time.I want to get a high paying animator job when I get out of school. --Animeskeleton (talk) 01:47, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Googling found this site which might help you but I can't really help with the vagaries of the LA education system. However, if you want to drop out and quit school ASAP, you could do that. BUT, unless you really want a low grade McJob, I suggest you stay at school and at least get your diploma. If you want to go on to a high paying career as an animator, you might be lucky and work you way up with just a high school diploma, but in all honestly you will probably need a degree to progress quickly. Astronaut (talk) 03:28, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Also could you book some time with the school advisor/counsellor? – to talk about the steps you need to take or know about, for how to get from where you're at to where you want to be (in animation). Best, Julia Rossi (talk) 09:51, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Crocodile wife[edit]

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What is a "crocodile wife"?--Shantavira|feed me 11:48, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

No one seems to know. —Angr 15:33, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
It's undoubtedly from folklore, and it rings a bell. I managed to find reference to a folk tale from Timor involving a "crocodile wife" ["Literary Masks and Metaphysical Truths: Intimations from Timor" by David Hicks in American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 90, No. 4 (Dec., 1988), pp. 807-817, Publisher: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association.] I can't say that this is the tale I'm thinking of, but I wouldn't be surprised to find a similar tale anyplace there are crocodiles. In this tale, a man fishing in a river is invited by a lady croc to come down to the river bottom and inspect her riches. He agrees, and she takes him there on her back. He stays dry throughout. She begs him to sleep with her by day, and if he will she will share her riches with him. He agrees, and she takes him back up. The man sleeps with his crocodile wife by day and with his human wife by night until the human wife gets suspicious and follows him to the river. The crocodile wife sees her and kills the man. --Milkbreath (talk) 16:30, 2 May 2008 (UTC) may be the reference, particularly the last line. I don't think he liked Charles. --Lisa4edit (talk) 08:08, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Both those stories are very interesting, thank you. Who needs Yahoo answers?--Shantavira|feed me 12:11, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Is this grammatically correct?[edit]

"You, sir, are offending me odiferiously." Meaning he stinks. Is there another way to say it? -- (talk) 19:57, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

I think I better word would be "olfactorally", but although I use the word from time to time I can't seem to find a definition online. (talk) 20:43, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
(ec) If you go to OneLook and enter a word, and the only hit you get is from either Wiktionary or Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7), it's a mistake and not a word. The word is "odoriferous". Sure, that is one way of saying it, perhaps the most Fieldsian way in the world, and there are countless other ways. --Milkbreath (talk) 20:48, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
You stink? Clarityfiend (talk) 02:22, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
odiferously has a bit more success in the googling, but odiferous is a very old word. It is indeed occasionally used as a humorous euphemism to say that "something stinks" but you would not use "such language". You also indicate that you are educated enough to use high level vocabulary (i.e. words considered obsolete). So in a social context it doubles your superiority. That doesn't happen in print that often and there are many other options for saying that. The adverbial form is used even more rarely. It's sort of like starting a request off with "May I trouble you, dear lady.." I'd say use this sparingly and don't really expect your opposite to understand the vocabulary. From context they will probably gather that you are not giving them praise, though. Lisa4edit (talk) 08:00, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Odoriferous was used of the character "Lonely" in Callan. My mac's popup dictionary gives: ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin odorifer ‘odor-bearing’ + -ous, odiferous as a variant spelling; then there's odorous. Synonym "fragrant" but since old, used humorously for "pong" or stink. How you get the message across might take another approach completely. You sir, sounds Dickensian. Maybe Clarityfield's statement can be put as a question like, Do you know that... with *hand over nose, one hand waving*. Or, there's a strong smell around you, what is it? (If it's about an actual smell. If you don't like the person, then take your pick.) Julia Rossi (talk) 10:05, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Map translation[edit]

Hi, I found this text on an old map, and am interested as to what it means. It is dated 1531

ORONTIVS F. DELPHI. ad Lectorem. OFFERIMVS TIBI , CANDID Lector, univerfam orbis terrarum defcriptioé, iuxta recemium Geographorum ac Hydrograpo rum mentem, feruatatum Aequatoris, tumpa, rallelorum ad eos que ex centris proportione, geminacordis humaniformula in plano coexten, fam: quarum laeua borealom, dextra uerodu, firalem Mundi partem complecitur. Tuigitur munufculum boe liberaliier excipito: habetoque gratias Chrifria 10 VVechelo, cuius favore [unknown], empenfio bec tibi commun rauimus, Vale. 1531. Menfe lulio.

Sorry If not everything is spelled correctly, it was difficult to read and the lettering was in a different written style then I am used to. There was a character that looked like this: ∫ I believed it to be an f. After doing some searching, it is probably a lengthened "s," although there are other s characters that look like s. Mac Davis (talk) 22:14, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Yep, if it looks like an "f" without a crossbar it's a long s. —Angr 22:47, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
What part of the world is shown on the map? Astronaut (talk) 00:43, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Here is a scan of the map [1] Thanks :) Mac Davis (talk) 00:55, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
So it's the whole world, including the parts not then known; the north pole (left) and south pole (right) are the places where the lines converge. The title says "New and Integral Map of the Universal Globe". Now the text we're asked about begins with "Orontius F(inneaus) Delph. to the reader", but I don't know what the "Delph." bit is, as it doesn't seem to be part of his name. Oh, or maybe that's not DELPH but DEI. PH., some sort of God reference, but I don't know what PH would be.
After that it says "We offer you, honorable reader, a description of the universal globe of the earth" (the word I'm glossing as "honorable" literally means "clear white"). After that is something about "next to" and "recent" and "the minds of the geographers and hydrographers", but I can't put it together exactly. The text goes on to mention the equator and parallels and the plane projection in the shape of a human heart, and I'll stop at this point and let someone else who might actually have a dictionary at hand improve it. Oh, the last two lines say "Goodbye, July 1531." --Anonymous, 03:20 UTC, May 3, 2008.


ORONTIUS F. DELPH. ad Lectorem. OFFERIMUS TIBI, CANDIDE Lector, universam orbis terrarum descriptionem, iuxta recentium Geographorum ac Hydrographorum mentem, servata tum Aequatoris, tum parallelorum ad eas quae ex centris proportione, gemina cordis humani formula in plano coextensam: quarum laeva borealem, dextra vero australem Mundi partem complectitur. Tu igitur munusculum hoc liberaliter excipito: habetoque gratias Christiano Wechelo, cuis favore & impensis haec tibi communicavimus. Vale. 1531. Mense Iulio.


Oronce Finé of the Dauphiné to the reader: I offer to you, honest reader, a representation of the entire world according to the understanding of modern geographers and hydrographers, with the proportion of both the equator and the latitudes preserved with respect to the things away from the poles, laid out on a plane in the twinned form of a human heart; of which the left one comprises the northern part of the earth, and the right one the southern part. Therefore, receive this small gift kindly; and thank Christian Wechel, by whose good will and at whose expense I have shared it with you. Farewell. 1531, in the month of July.

(Christian Wechel was a printer in Paris, who published the map.) Deor (talk) 15:25, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

International gesture for money[edit]

The gesture of rubbing the tips of the thumb and fingers together to signify money exists in Britain, Italy, and probably the Czech Republic. What other countries is its meaning known in? How did its meaning spread between countries? (talk) 22:15, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

It's known in the U.S., and when I've used it in Germany, people interpreted it correctly, though I can't promise I've seen Germans actively use it themselves. —Angr 22:46, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I've seen the same gesture while on holiday in Egypt accompnied by a request for "baksheesh". Astronaut (talk) 23:17, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I think I've seen it used in southeast asia and Japan as well. Mac Davis (talk) 00:54, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
In Germany it requires context. It could be used to indicate things that are brittle or run through your fingers, particularly when followed by a movement towards the same shoulder. If you aren't careful with hand position it could be mistaken for "salt". Usually context makes things obvious. --Lisa4edit (talk) 07:40, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Map translation 2[edit]

[smudged out] Romae sitvs cvm iis qvae adhvc conspicivntvr veter monvment religviis pyrrho liggorioneap invent

Is this Latin? The map is dated 1570. Mac Davis (talk) 22:24, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, it's Latin, although "religviis" should be "reliqviis", and "liggorioneap" is definitely wrong (I can't begin to imagine what it might actually be), and I don't think "invent" is a complete word. Except for the ones in "veter" and "invent", the "v"s would normally be written "u" in standardized spelling today. Do you have a scan of the map? —Angr 22:44, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
"pyrrho liggorioneap" probably somehow refers to Pirro Ligorio. ---Sluzzelin talk 00:50, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Here is a scan of the map[2] Mac Davis (talk) 00:53, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Okay, the first word should be VRBIS, so the first part of the text is something like "Site of the city of Rome with what can be seen around it". The next bit is about some sort of monuments and I'm guessing that that word means reliquaries. On the last bit, Neap. is short for Neapolis, so it's "Pirro Ligorio of Naples"; and the last word is cognate to "invented" and basically means "found", but here it must mean that Ligorio drew the map. --Anonymous, 03:26 UTC, May 3, 2008.

Text (spelled with the modern u/v distinction):



The Site of the City of Rome, with Those Remains of Ancient Monuments Which Are Still to Be Seen
Produced by Pirro Ligorio of Naples
At Rome, 1570

Deor (talk) 15:50, 3 May 2008 (UTC)