# Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/370

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NOTES AND QUERIES. [9 th s. XL MAY 9, im

BILLION: TRILLION. THERE is much confusion as to the signifi- cation of billion. No one can be sure of what s meant, unless it is denoted by figures. A rillion in the United States generally stands 'or a thousand millions (nine ciphers), and in ,he United Kingdom for a million millions twelve ciphers). Confusion is worse con- Jounded when we come to trillion, which may mean either a million millions (twelve ciphers), a million billions (eighteen ciphers), or a billion billions (twenty-four ciphers) billion here having the English signification. The French notation, adopted in the United States, has the advantage of being in corre- spondence with the universal punctuation of the figures by threes. Its defects are (1) the eye does not readily catch the number of igures embraced when the row is a long one ; ^2) the notation in each step utilizes up to iiuiidreds only, causing the inclusion and waste of a large number of titles in naming big numbers ; and (3) the punctuation is con- fusing in a long row, as there are more groups cut off (from the right) than the name of the number implies thus, million (six ciphers) has two groups, billion (nine ciphers) three groups, trillion (twelve ciphers) four groups, &c.

The English notation seems, at first sight, to be more logical. It appears to follow the natural course of numbers in exhausting the numeration obtained from the previous steps before reaching the next. Thus ten tens are a hundred, a thousand thousands are a million, a million millions are a billion. It fails, however, in two important links in the chain, for a hundred hundreds in that case should logically be a thousand, and a billion billions a trillion. It is also defective in two other respects. The usual punctuation is meaningless. To be appropriate, it should be in sixes instead of in threes. It is im- possible to name any high number by the English notation without a considerable in- spection of the figures embraced.

A method that would combine both the systems into one, not only ridding us of all doubt on the subject, but getting over the defects in each, is very desirable. 1 make the suggestion of the following one for that purpose. By it the significations of billion, trillion,* <fec., would become crystallized, and the better known and more commonly used terms of ten, hundred, thousand, and million left unchanged. The only alterations are the introduction into the terminology of the

• Etymologically, a billion is two millions, and a

trillion three millions. 