Win a copy of Programming with Types this week in the Angular and TypeScript forum
or The Design of Web APIs in the Web Services forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
programming forums Java Mobile Certification Databases Caching Books Engineering Micro Controllers OS Languages Paradigms IDEs Build Tools Frameworks Application Servers Open Source This Site Careers Other all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
Marshals:
  • Campbell Ritchie
  • Liutauras Vilda
  • Bear Bibeault
  • Paul Clapham
  • Jeanne Boyarsky
Sheriffs:
  • Junilu Lacar
  • Knute Snortum
  • Henry Wong
Saloon Keepers:
  • Ron McLeod
  • Tim Moores
  • Stephan van Hulst
  • Tim Holloway
  • Carey Brown
Bartenders:
  • Frits Walraven
  • Joe Ess
  • salvin francis

Does this expression confuse anyone but me?

 
lowercase baba
Posts: 12783
51
Chrome Java Linux
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was reading something earlier today, and came across basically this:

"The model was 25 times smaller than real life"

Now, to me, this is confusing. "25 times" should make something bigger. I mean, "the model was 1/25 the size of real life" makes perfect sense. "Real life is 25 times bigger than the model", "Real life is 25 times the size of the model" - again, make perfect sense.

But saying something is X times SMALLER, where X > 1, just seems like saying "positive A is negative" or "The dry thing was wet".

Why do people do this?
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 2937
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

fred rosenberger wrote:I was reading something earlier today, and came across basically this:

"The model was 25 times smaller than real life"

Now, to me, this is confusing. "25 times" should make something bigger. I mean, "the model was 1/25 the size of real life" makes perfect sense. "Real life is 25 times bigger than the model", "Real life is 25 times the size of the model" - again, make perfect sense.

But saying something is X times SMALLER, where X > 1, just seems like saying "positive A is negative" or "The dry thing was wet".

Why do people do this?



I don't find it confusing, aside from the fact that it's the less than perfect English. In the expression "The model was 25 times smaller than real life", the "model" is compared to "life", which are obviously incomparable things. It should be something like: "The model was 25 times smaller than the actual car". Other than that, it seems straightforward to me. Saying that "A is 25 times smaller than B" is as clear as saying that "A is 1/25 the size of B", or that "B is 25 times larger than A".
 
Rancher
Posts: 3412
34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yevgeny++
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 182
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How about "the model was 1/25 times bigger than the real life"?
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 237
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

fred rosenberger wrote:The model was 25 times smaller than real life



To my ear "times" signals a multiplicative outcome in general regardless of whether something has become bigger or smaller (or more or less, or better or worse, or ...). I'm sure that's the consensus view and above of all, it removes the need for the word "divides", like in

"The model was 25 divides smaller than real life."

So please consider the alternative before nitpicking "times smaller".
 
Greenhorn
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

fred rosenberger wrote:"The model was 25 times smaller than real life"



I understand that most clothes designers want their models to be small but are they really demanding that they be that small!!!
 
Marshal
Posts: 24837
60
Eclipse IDE Firefox Browser MySQL Database
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It confuses me, usually. But then I learned when I was 10 years old that "5 times bigger" meant the same thing as "6 times as big as", and it took me a long time after that to learn that other people don't follow that rule. Oh, they do use "10 percent bigger" to mean the same as "110 percent as big as" pretty uniformly, but not the rule that I learned as a child.

So it isn't surprising that I can never figure out what "5 times smaller" means. My mind is going, is that "4 times as small as" or "6 times as small as" and eventually just gives up. Quite often the person saying that is innumerate and it turns out that the phrase was meaningless anyway, so in the end it's better to just ignore "5 times smaller" which is only there for advertising purposed anyway and to look at the actual numbers.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 3850
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

But then I learned when I was 10 years old that "5 times bigger" meant the same thing as "6 times as big as",



This is not right.


Oh, they do use "10 percent bigger" to mean the same as "110 percent as big as" pretty uniformly



This is right.
 
Paul Clapham
Marshal
Posts: 24837
60
Eclipse IDE Firefox Browser MySQL Database
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

ankur rathi wrote:

But then I learned when I was 10 years old that "5 times bigger" meant the same thing as "6 times as big as",



This is not right.



Are you sure it's not right? Not to set myself up as an expert, but I'm a native speaker of English and I don't think you are. But it's like I said, other people don't follow that rule. Even other people who are native speakers of English.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 423
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

fred rosenberger wrote:I was reading something earlier today, and came across basically this:

"The model was 25 times smaller than real life"

Now, to me, this is confusing. "25 times" should make something bigger. I mean, "the model was 1/25 the size of real life" makes perfect sense. "Real life is 25 times bigger than the model", "Real life is 25 times the size of the model" - again, make perfect sense.

But saying something is X times SMALLER, where X > 1, just seems like saying "positive A is negative" or "The dry thing was wet".

Why do people do this?


lol

In Java we finished with ; and in english with .
The code precedence is from right-to-left in this case.
Analyzing the sentence we can conclude that:


 
ankur rathi
Ranch Hand
Posts: 3850
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Paul Clapham wrote:

ankur rathi wrote:

But then I learned when I was 10 years old that "5 times bigger" meant the same thing as "6 times as big as",



This is not right.



Are you sure it's not right? Not to set myself up as an expert, but I'm a native speaker of English and I don't think you are. But it's like I said, other people don't follow that rule. Even other people who are native speakers of English.



No, I am not native english speaker.
See, assume X is something, five times of it is 5X which has no relation with 6.
 
Mike Simmons
Rancher
Posts: 3412
34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Five times X is 5X, sure. But five times bigger than X is X + 5X, which is 6X.
 
ankur rathi
Ranch Hand
Posts: 3850
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mike Simmons wrote:Five times X is 5X, sure. But five times bigger than X is X + 5X, which is 6X.



Hmmm.
 
Sheriff
Posts: 11343
Mac Safari Java
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

fred rosenberger wrote:..."The model was 25 times smaller than real life"...


I think they meant to say, "The reciprocal of the square of one less than the first perfect number."

But unless they define what "real life" means, it's not going to make sense anyway.
 
Leandro Coutinho
Ranch Hand
Posts: 423
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

marc weber wrote:I think they meant to say, "The reciprocal of the square of one less than the first perfect number."

But unless they define what "real life" means, it's not going to make sense anyway.



In code, we know the precedence of the operations (normally using parentheses to make it more clear).
How do we know the precedence of the operations in a sentence?

The reciprocal of the square of one...
What would be this "one"? 25? or simply 1?
one -> 25
square of one -> 5
reciprocal of the square of one -> 1/5
first perfect number -> 6
reciprocal of the square of one (1) less the first perfect number (6) -> -5

I'm lost. Please, help me to understand your sentence.
 
Paul Clapham
Marshal
Posts: 24837
60
Eclipse IDE Firefox Browser MySQL Database
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mike Simmons wrote:Five times X is 5X, sure. But five times bigger than X is X + 5X, which is 6X.



Right. And that's how I use the phrase. But that's just logic. It would be nice if people applied logic to their use of language, but that ain't the case.
 
Does this tiny ad smell okay to you?
Java file APIs (DOC, XLS, PDF, and many more)
https://products.aspose.com/total/java
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!