NUMBERS

USA by Mark Rosenfelder, Australia by Chris O'Regan, Austria by Klaus A. Brunner, Brazil by Emilio Neto, Brittany (France) by Damien Erwan Perrotin, Canada & Ontario by Adam Bishop, British Columbia (Canada) by PJ Perdue, Quebec (Canada) by Valerie Bourdeau, China by the English class at the Suzhou branch of Agile Software Co, Colombia by Carlos Thompson Pinzˇn, England by Graham John Francis de Sales Wheeler, Finland by Johanna Laakso, France by Nicolas Duvernois, Germany by Irgend Jemand, Greece by Chris TDAQ, India by Apurva Mishra, Israel by Robin Alexander, Italy by Riccardo Distasi, Japan by Hirofumi Nagamura, Urban Mexico by Acoyani Garrido Sandoval, The Netherlands by Bas Suverkropp, New Zealand by Gareth Wilson, Nigeria by Didi, Poland by Pawel Stachura, Scotland by Geoff Eddy, South Africa by T'Mar, Sweden by Anders Janson, Turkey by Cyril Alebard, Long Island by Robert Delaney, Southern Louisiana by Andrew Chaney, Texas by Tom Wier, Yorkshire (UK) by Stephanie Bailey, Southcentral Alaska by Cherie Campbell, and the general characteristics of the First Generation Immigrant by John Smith

C

Decimal point

Definition of a billion

System of measurement

How date is written & most important dates

NORTH AMERICA

U
S
A

The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma.

A billion is a thousand times a million.

You still measure things in feet, pounds, and gallons.

The date comes second: 11/22/63. (And you know what happened on that date.)

A
L
A
S
K
A

S
O
U
T
H
C
E
N
T
R
A
L

U
S
A

The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma.

A billion is a thousand times a million.

You still measure things in feet, pounds, and gallons.

As with the rest of the US, the date comes second: 3/27/64. (And you know what happened on that date.)

L
O
N
G

I
S
L
A
N
D

U
S
A

 

 

You measure driving distances in minutes, not miles.

Back in the 1960s, teachers told students that we had to learn the metric system because we'd be switching to it very soon, but it didn't happen.

Uh, what happened on 11/22/63? <G>

9/11/01 is now the date that you're certain to know about, and you also know someone who was directly affected by it.

L
O
U
I
S
I
A
N
A

U
S
A

The decimal point is a dot, certainly not a comma.

 

Pounds, gallons, and feet are used everywhere, but someone tried to teach you the metric system in school.

The date comes second. -- 10/8/81 -- There are no commonly known dates associated with Louisiana.

T
E
X
A
S

U
S
A

 

1 x 109 = 1 billion.

1 x 1012 = 1 trillion.

You still measure just about everything in the customary system of feet, pounds and gallons. You have, of course, also been taught the metric system in school, but the only practical use that comes of it is in buying softdrinks.

The date comes second, as in the rest of the US: 3/2/1836 (and you know what happened on that date).

C
A
N
A
D
A

The decimal point is a dot.

A billion is a thousand times a million.

If you are in your 30's or younger, you usually use the metric system for distances (kilometres), but you probably weigh yourself with pounds and measure yourself with feet and inches. You can recognize other non-metric forms (like gallons), but may not know how big they are. You probably use Celsius, but know how to tell the temperature in Fahrenheit as well, because of American TV.

The date can either come second or first (07/01/1867 or 01/07/1867, either way you know what happened that day). You think one way is American and the other way British, but you're not sure which is which.

B
R
I
T
I
S
H

C
O
L
U
M
B
I
A

The decimal point is a dot, never a comma.

A billion is a thousand times a million.

The government shoved the metric system down your throat in the early 1970's, but every Canadian interchangeably uses miles and kilometres, feet and metres. Everyone insists on spelling them ending in "re". Road signs give the speed limit in kph, but supermarkets price food at cost per pound.

The date comes second: 07/01/67. (And you know what happened on that date.)

O
N
T
A
R
I
O

C
A
N

 

 

You would measure the temperature of a backyard pool in Fahrenheit, and you would measure yourself in feet, inches, and pounds, but otherwise the metric system is used, especially among younger people. If you are about 30 or older, you switch back and forth between metric and non-metric measurements. You can sometimes understand non-metric units because of American TV but you wouldn't normally use them.

Due to American influence, the date usually comes second: 07/01/1867

Q
U
E
B
E
C

C
A
N

The decimal point is a comma.

A billion has 12 zeros, 9 zeros is a milliard.

You use metric mostly, except for height where feet and inches are the standard. Temperature is measured in degrees Celsius. In official documents, the 24-hour system is used, 7 PM is 19:00, but in practice you use the 12-hour system.

Dates are in the DD/MM/YY format.

LATIN AMERICA

B
R
A
Z
I
L

The decimal point is a comma, everything else is a dot.

A billion is a thousand times a million.

You measure everything in meters, kilos and liters (and Centigrade degrees).

The date comes first: day.month.year. There are no specific dates engraved in the collective memory except for the national and religious (Catholic) holidays. If you are black you may remember 13.05.1888 (Emancipation of the Slaves).

C
O
L
O
M
B
I
A

The decimal point is a comma, unless you are using US produced software. You separate thousands with a dot, and millions with an apostrophe. i.e. 25'234.706,44

A billˇn (billion) is a million times a million, unless you are reading a US source from a careless translation. Someone has suggested that 1.000'000.000 should be a millardo but it is easier to say mil millones.

You measure things in meters, centimeters, kilos and liters, except for a few liquids like gasoline where you use gallons (well, actually you measure gasoline in pesos, the pump convert pesos in gallons). You still measure food in pounds (libras), but a pound is exactly a half kilo.

The month comes in the middle, usually, but you will usually have to guess if the date is in the beginning or the end: 18/08/89. (Well, you probably don't remember that date but you know what happened then.)

You probably know the 24 hour clock, mainly if you have been in the army, but you never use it. The 12 hour clock with AM and PM is the norm. In common speech you translate AM to "madrugada" (before 6:00 AM) and "ma˝ana", and PM into "tarde" before (6:00 PM) and "noche". The day is from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM with very minimal variation and you have the same time all the year round.

M
E
X
I
C
O

U
R
B
A
N

The decimal point is a period. Certainly not a comma.

A billion is a million times a million.

You measure things in meters, grams, kilograms and liters, but while following recipes you measure things in fingers, cups, glasses, handfuls and trickles.

The date comes first: 5/12/94. (And you know what happened on that day.)

EUROPE

A
U
S
T
R
I
A

The decimal point is a comma. Two million Euros would be written as 2.000.000,- EUR.

A Billion is ten to the power of twelve. A Milliarde is a thousand millions, i.e. ten to the power of nine. You're used to journalists mistranslating the American "billion" to the German "Billion".

You measure things in metric units, and think that anything else is stupid. You may use the otherwise unusual weight unit Dekagramm (10 grams, in short: Deka) when buying food. Half a kilogram is half a kilogram, not a "Pfund".

Day, month, year, what else makes sense? 26.10.1955 (and you're supposed to know what happened on that date)

F
I
N
L
A
N
D

The decimal point is a comma, or so you are taught at school. People in technical and computer professions seem to use the dot.

 

You measure things in meters, kilograms and liters.

The date comes first : 6.12.1917. (And you should know what happened on that date.)

F
R
A
N
C
E

The decimal point is a comma, as in all of Europe. Certainly not a dot, except on computers.

 

You measure things in meters, kilograms and liters-- as everybody in the whole world does, apart from a few strange countries who refuse to use such a simple system.

The date comes first : 18/6/40. (And you know what happened on that date).

B
R
I
T
T
A
N
Y

F
R

The decimal point is a comma. Certainly not a dot.

A billion is a million times a million. A thousand times a million is a milliard.

You use the metric system.

The date comes first: 5/5/45.

G
E
R
M
A
N
Y

The decimal point is a comma. On calculators it's a dot.

A billion is a million times a million. A thousand times a million is a Milliarde.

You measure things with the metric system, like all sane countries do. The only exception is that a Pfund (pound) is half a kilogram or 500 grams, although there's no such unit in the official metric system.

The date comes first: 09/11/18, 23, 38, 39, 89. And you should know what happened on at least one of those dates. [November 9 is a sort of magic date in German history. On Nov. 9, 1918, revolutionaries (most of them naval mutineers) overthrew the emperor and proclaimed the German republic, leading in a few days to the end of World War I. On Nov. 9, 1923, Hitler tried for the first time to seize power, in Bavaria. His putsch was put down by the army and police. Nov. 9, 1938 was 'Kristallnacht', a coordinated mass attack on Jews, synagogues, and Jewish institutions throughout Germany. This marked the beginning of the most violent phase of the regime's persecution of Jews. On Nov. 9, 1939, Georg Elser tried to kill Hitler with a bomb at a ceremony marking the events of 1923. Unfortunately, Hitler left ten minutes before the explosion because of a "bad feeling". On Nov. 9, 1989, the East German government decided to open the doors for emigrants, and the Berlin Wall fell. For hopeless history freaks: On Nov. 9, 1799 (the 18th of Brumaire), Napoleon took power in France-- an event which would have enormous repercussions for Germany. And on Nov, 9, 1848, the Austrian government executed a member of the German National Assembly despite his parliamentary immunity, which has been said to be the beginning of the end for the German revolution of 1848/9.]

G
R
E
E
C
E

The decimal point is a comma. A dot is used for thousands and millions.

 

You measure things in meters, grams, and liters. Temperatures are measured in Celsius degrees.

You use the day/month/year format: 25/03/1821. (You probably know what happened on that date.)

I
T
A
L
Y

The decimal point is a comma, but computer guys and tech-heads often use a dot.

A thousand million is called a miliardo. A bilione is a million times a million, you think, but mille miliardi is easier.

You measure things in meters, kilos and liters.

The date comes first: 25/4/1945. (And you know what happened on that date.)

N
E
T
H
E
R
L
A
N
D
S

The decimal point is a comma. Certainly not a dot.

A billion is a million times a million. A thousand times a million is a miljard.

You use the metric system. The only exception is that a pond (pound) is half a kilogram, and an ons (ounce) is 100 grams.

The date comes first: 5/5/45. (And you know what happened on that date.)

P
O
L
A
N
D

The decimal point is a comma.

A billion is a million times a million. Thousand times a million is a milliard.

You measure things in metres, kilograms and litres.

The date comes first: 01.11.1918. (And you know you should know that date, even if you're not quite sure what it is.)

S
W
E
D
E
N

The decimal point is a comma.

A billion is a million times a million, which is hardly ever heard. A thousand times a million is a miljard, which is often used.

You measure things in metres, kilograms, and litres. There is a particular Swedish mile of 10 kilometres that others do not use.

The date comes last: 2002-09-05. (no memorable date: disasters seldom happen in Sweden, touch wood)

E
N
G
L
A
N
D

U
K

The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma.

A billion is a thousand times a million. But it used to be a million times a million.

You still mentally measure things in feet, pounds, and gallons, though the European Union has made metric measures mandatory for most things.

The date comes first: 03.09.39. (And you know what happened on that date.)

Y
O
R
K
S
H
I
R
E

U
K

The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma.

A billion is a thousand times a million. But it used to be a million times a million.

You still mentally measure things in feet, pounds, and gallons, though the European Union has made metric measures mandatory for most things.

The date comes first: 22/11/63. (And you know what happened on that date.)

S
C
O
T
L
A
N
D

U
K

The decimal point is a dot, certainly not a comma.

A billion is either a thousand times or a million times a million - you're not sure which.

You measure things in feet, pounds, and gallons if you're over a certain age; otherwise you're likely to use metric. You measure distances to nearby towns in miles.

The month comes second: 24/6/1314 and 12/9/1997. (And you know what happened on those dates.)

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

A
U
S
T
R
A
L
I
A

The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma.

A billion, ever since American economists started running the world, is a thousand times a million.

You measure things in metres, kilograms and litres, unless you are over than about 50.

The month comes second: 26/1/88. (And you know what happened on that date).

N
E
W

Z
E
A
L
A
N
D

The decimal point is a dot, not a comma.

 

The metric system feels completely natural to you, from the 1-litre soft drink bottles to the 1-kilogram blocks of cheese.

The date comes first: 6/2/1840, and you know what happened on that date.

ASIA

I
N
D
I
A

The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma.

A billion is a thousand times a million. But you would be more likely to talk in lakhs (a tenth of a million) or crores (10 million).

For the most part you measure things in metres, kilograms, and litres. Feet and inches are used almost exclusively for describing the height of people or small objects. Indian measures are still used in some contexts; e.g. a unit of weight called tola is widely used by goldsmiths.

The date comes first: 15/8/1947. (And you know what happened on that date.)

C
H
I
N
A

If you use a comma as a decimal point, your math teacher will punish you.

Higher numbers go by groups of four digits. Above a thousand, you go from wàn (1 0000 or ten thousand) to (1 0000 0000 or one hundred million).

You still measure things in Chinese units sometimes; otherwise, you use centimeters, grams, and liters.

The year comes first: 1949/10/01. (And you know what happened on that day.)

J
A
P
A
N

The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma (but, confusingly, it sometimes is called a konma-- probably a loan word from French or German).

Japan follows the Chinese scheme for numbers, where new names for numbers are introduced every four digits, e.g. 10,000 = 1 man, 100,000,000 = 1 oku, 1,000,000,000,000 = 1 ch˘, etc. The Western practice of inserting commas (or periods, or whatever) every three digits is pretty confusing.

You measure things using the metric system, like all sane countries do.

No, no, it's year, month, date: 1945/8/15. (And you know what happened on that date.) If you're over 60, you might not be very familiar with the Western calendar years; you're more used to neng˘. In which case, it's Sh˘wa 20/8/15

(I guess this needs explaining-- neng˘ means "era name". Years are referred to as "the Nth year of the X era". In olden days, emperors would start new eras whenever an auspicious or inauspicious event occurred. Japanese history books often have big tables at the back showing which year of which era corresponds to which year of the Christian calendar. Ever since modernization, a "one Emperor, one era" rule has been in effect. Currently it's the Hŕsŕ era.).

AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

N
I
G
E
R
I
A

A decimal point is a dot.

A billion is 9 zeros, simple and short.

 

The date comes first 01/10/60 (and you can remember exactly what happened on that date!).

S
O
U
T
H

A
F
R
I
C
A

The decimal point is a comma, or so you were taught, but you think that using a comma is silly and you use a dot when you can get away with it.

A billion is a million times a million according to your Maths (not 'Math') teacher, but you consider a billion to be a thousand times a million because you're used to that usage from American TV shows.

You measure things in litres, metres, kilometres, kilograms and celsius (centigrade). You consider American measuring units to be plain wrong. You have no idea what people are talking about when they refer to Farenheit temperature.

The year comes first: 1994-04-27, or last: 27/04/94 (and you know what happened on that date), but the month always goes in the middle.

I
S
R
A
E
L

 

 

You use the metric system.

The date is written DAY/MONTH/YEAR.

T
U
R
K
E
Y

 

You say milyar for 1,000,000,000. On the account of inflation it is not difficult to be a milyarder (billionaire) in your country. It is highly likely that you are one.

You measure things in meters, grams, and litres.

You use the day/month/year format: 29/05/1453. (Of course you know what happened on that date.)

SUBCULTURES

1
S
T

G
E
N

I
M
M
I
G
R
A
N
T

The decimal point is whatever is in force in your country of adoption. It's incidental to your primary concerns.

Millions (106), Billions (109) and trillions (1012) are just hypothetical numbers that you see on billboard posters (until you can afford your TV) advertising potential lottery wins. Your immediate concern is to deal in simple integer groups of up to perhaps 4 units (103). But there again, this applies equally to the overwhelming majority of the magnet country's (and world's) population whose gambling stake allowed some lucky so-and-so to win his 106 / 109 / 1012 units of local and exchangeable currency.

Things are measured using the metric system, like all sane countries do. You probably come from a former colony so refuse to use an 'imperial' measurement unless it is the law of the magnet land.

If from a muslim country you have to adapt to the christian calendar; otherwise, in Europe it's D/M/Y while in USA it's M/D/Y.

< Culture Menu
 Back to Robert's Page 
Next Page >

Blue Ribbon Campaign for Online Freedom of Speech, Press, and Association Dialect Map of American English  -  My Stories  -  Shakespeare's History Plays  -  Long Island Theatre Calendar  -  Seven Wonders of the World  -  Magic Trick Counter since November 1, 2009