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British "billion" vs. US "billion" (false cognates)?

English translation: billion (US and UK)

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
French term or phrase:millard
English translation:billion (US and UK)
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07:46 Dec 5, 2000
French to English translations [Non-PRO]
Bus/Financial
French term or phrase: British "billion" vs. US "billion" (false cognates)?
A French-speaking contractor is trying to tell me (with insistance) that a British billion = 1,000,000,000,000 (a US trillion) and that a UK trillion = a US "quintillion". Curiously, this is also what the Larousse CD-ROM says (erroneously?).
Can a "real" British English speaker please confirm the truth/nonsense to this? Can you also confirm that, although they may very well say "1,000 million" for "billion" in the UK, these are just synonyms and that a UK billion is the same as a US billion, or 1,000,000,000?
Daniel Steffen
Switzerland
Local time: 14:26
A UK billion = US billion even
Explanation:
though I prefer a billion UK £ now (lousy joke)

1.000.000.000 = 1000 millions = 1 billion (sometimes in (UK) English also 1 milliard, as in '1 miljard' (Dutch) and 1 milliard in French,...); it simply doesn't matter where you live, a billion is a billion etc
Selected response from:

Evert DELOOF-SYS
Belgium
Local time: 14:26
Grading comment
Although it was quite interesting to hear from Claire that some British speakers still think of a billion as a million millions (and indeed this used to be the case, hence the dictionary entries), I was since able to confirm with the Financial Times and the Economist style manuals that today's UK billion is still only a 1000 millions (or, one US billion too), at least in the British business press. Thanks!
3 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
naIt's true!Ria
naIf some of my colleagues could be so kind as to grade my answer '1'
Evert DELOOF-SYS
naExplanation: Until quite recently (this century), your client
Parrot
natrillion, quintillion, nonillionDana Carciumaru
nayour client could be right!
Glen McCulley
nauk billionAgius Language & Translation
naA UK billion = US billion even
Evert DELOOF-SYS


  

Answers


7 mins
A UK billion = US billion even


Explanation:
though I prefer a billion UK £ now (lousy joke)

1.000.000.000 = 1000 millions = 1 billion (sometimes in (UK) English also 1 milliard, as in '1 miljard' (Dutch) and 1 milliard in French,...); it simply doesn't matter where you live, a billion is a billion etc

Evert DELOOF-SYS
Belgium
Local time: 14:26
Native speaker of: Native in DutchDutch, Native in FlemishFlemish
PRO pts in pair: 287
Grading comment
Although it was quite interesting to hear from Claire that some British speakers still think of a billion as a million millions (and indeed this used to be the case, hence the dictionary entries), I was since able to confirm with the Financial Times and the Economist style manuals that today's UK billion is still only a 1000 millions (or, one US billion too), at least in the British business press. Thanks!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff

xxxJon Zuber

Kelhara Translations
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12 mins
your client could be right!


Explanation:
Other proZ members will give you better details than I can from where I am right now, but I know there's a difference, and that there are more zeros in US versions, etc.
Remember that America and Britain are "two countries separated by the same language"!


    Native British
Glen McCulley
Local time: 14:26
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in pair: 142

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
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13 mins
uk billion


Explanation:
a UK billion is a million million, written as 1 000 000 000 000, the equivalent of the US trillion. My dictionary defition offers this as a first definition and as a second definition it says: (in the US, Canada ans increasingly in Britain) one thousand million, written as 1 000 000 000. Personally as a native UK, I always think of a billion as a million million - hope this helps - it is very confusing, I admit!
Claire

Agius Language & Translation
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:26
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 69

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff

Kelhara Translations
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16 mins
trillion, quintillion, nonillion


Explanation:
ENGLISH: billion s CORRECT,N. AMERICA
B s
milliard s CORRECT,GR. BRITAIN
DEF - The number represented by 1 followed by 9 zeros. s
OBS - 1,000,000,000. s

FRENCH
milliard s CORRECT,MASC
M
billion s AVOID,MASC,OBSOLETE

DEF - Milliard est le nombre représenté par 1 suivi de 9 zéros. s
OBS - Le terme "billion" est actuellement réservé en français pour désigner une autre notion, c-à-d., le nombre représenté par 1 suivi de 12 zéros. s
OBS - 1,000,000,000.

2. ENGLISH
trillion s CORRECT,N. AMERICA
billion s CORRECT,GR. BRITAIN

DEF - The number represented by 1 followed by 12 zeros. s
CONT - The British billion (1,000 milliards or 1,000,000 millions) is equivalent to the American trillion. s
OBS - 1,000,000,000,000. s
FRENCH: billion s CORRECT,MASC
trillion s AVOID,MASC,OBSOLETE

DEF - Billion est le nombre représenté par 1 suivi de 12 zéros. s
OBS - Le terme "trillion" est actuellement réservé en français pour désigner une autre notion, c-à-d., le nombre représenté par 1 suivi de 18 zéros ("quintillion" en anglais, système américain). s
OBS - 1,000,000,00

nonillion s CORRECT,N. AMERICA
quintillion s CORRECT,GR. BRITAIN
DEF - American System Number of Zeros:30. s
FRENCH: quintillion s CORRECT

DEF - (1948) Un million de quatrillions [1 suivi de 30 zéros].It looks like your client is right, although the use is obsolete.


    Reference: http://www.termium.com
Dana Carciumaru
Canada
Local time: 08:26
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in RomanianRomanian
PRO pts in pair: 38

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Yolanda Broad

Heathcliff

Kelhara Translations
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4 hrs
Explanation: Until quite recently (this century), your client


Explanation:
would have been correct, British English used milliards between the thousands and the billions. US influence has currently changed this; anyway, in the field of economics, "trillions" or "billions" are quite astronomical when speaking of the dollar or pound sterling (which does not happen on the other side of the channel).


    Look for "milliards" in Larousse, it also exists.
Parrot
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 1861

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
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20 hrs
It's true!


Explanation:
noun: billion
(in Britain) the number that is represented as a one followed by 12 zeros
(in the United States) the number that is represented as a one followed by 9 zeros
adjective: billion
(U.S.) denoting a quantity consisting of one thousand million items or units; (Britain) denoting a quantity consisting of one million million items or units


    WordWeb Thesaurus/Dictionary
Ria
Local time: 13:26
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1 day 23 hrs
If some of my colleagues could be so kind as to grade my answer '1'


Explanation:
and 6 times more '0', then I'd have my ????

yes, one billion

:-)


Evert DELOOF-SYS
Belgium
Local time: 14:26
Native speaker of: Native in DutchDutch, Native in FlemishFlemish
PRO pts in pair: 287

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
ProZ.com Staff
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