Saturday, October 08, 2011

Apostrophic Separator

I thought I'd seen it all but this Bargaintown innovation is truly a new chapter in the life of the apostrophe.

"Pig ignorance" was my first thought. But then, on reflection, I could see the sense of it.

When we were more integrated with Britain in the past, the question didn't arise. The thousands separator was a comma and the decimal point a full stop.

Then we increasingly came across another way of doing it. The French, for example, do it exactly the other way round. The dot is their thousands separator and the comma their decimal point.

This made financial dealing with the French, particularly for anything under the million a real pain in the arse.

So is this the answer? Agree on the apostrophe as the universal thousands separator and Bob's your uncle.

So I figured I'd check out which countries were using which system. Enter Wikipedia. And to my amazement I found that some countries are already using the apostrophe for this purpose. But there is no standardisation. The variety of uses of the comma, dot and apostrophe as numeric separators is truly amazing.

So I leave you as I am left, pondering the question: is there scope for a universal campaign in favour of the apostrophe as the thousands separator?


Anonymous said...

Here is an everyday example of the French dot as thousands separator.

Póló said...



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