Discussion in 'English Only' started by amateurr, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. amateurr

    amateurr Senior Member

    Could you tell me how we pronounce "8.5" eight point five?

    "The study found that adults spend about 8.5 hours each day looking at some kind of screen."
  2. Æsop Banned

    Suburb of Washington, D.C.
    English--American (upstate NY)
    Yes, if you were dictating that sentence or reading it aloud, you would say, ". . . about eight point five hours . . ."
  3. amateurr

    amateurr Senior Member

    thank you!
  4. Trisia

    Trisia mod de viață

    I can easily imagine dictating that part of the sentence as "eight-point-five" but I don't think I'd read it that way if I found it in a book or article. If I had to read it out loud, I'd probably say "adults spend about eight and a half hours each day..."

    (could be a non-native thing :))
  5. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Well, I'm with you on this. :)
  6. Old Novice

    Old Novice Senior Member

    USA, English
    To me, it depends on the nature of the article. If it were in the newspaper, I'd think "eight and a half" as I read it. If it were in a technical journal, I'd think "eight point five."
  7. Æsop Banned

    Suburb of Washington, D.C.
    English--American (upstate NY)
    Reading aloud, you should say "eight point five" if it is important that the number is not "eight point four" or "eight point six." "Eight and a half" is an approximation, and less accurate than a metric precise enough to be expressed in tenths. The original context suggests a behavioral study in which the authors calculated screen viewing hours to the nearest tenth. If amateurr reads this aloud in English, he should not make the data less precise by saying "eight and a half." If the author(s) of the paper meant to round to the nearest half hour, they should have written "8½," not "8.5." "Eight and a half" could be anything from 8.26 to 8.74.
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I must remember that trick the next time I'm charged £8.74 for something in a shop ...:rolleyes:

    Oops, forgot to answer the question. If the sentence was surrounded by other sentences containing 4.4, 5.9, 3.1 etc., I'd read it as eight-point-five.
    Otherwise I'd read it as eight and a half.
  9. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Hello Sir,

    Just in case you'd ever want to visit my country, I wish to inform your that in Italy when people say "Eight and a half" they actually mean 8.5, nothing more and nothing less (but they will be happy to charge you 8 dollars and 74 cents if that's ok with you :)).
    To this humble engineer "Eight and a half miles" exactly means 8.5 miles, no approximation whatsoever.
  10. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    The original context doesn't aim at precision: "...adults spend about 8.5 hours".
    Because about 8.5 hours suggests a range, rather than a specific amount of time,
    I would read it as an unscientific generalization, and would read it as either eight point
    five or as eight and a half, with no particular concern about the intended meaning
    It is, in this particular use, an approximation.

    Remove "about", and context would dictate how I would perceive and say it. The sample sentence in the first post looks like something from the popular press, which sadly gives insufficient attention to precision in both fact and language.

    Backtracking in search of the sample sentence, one finds this chatty exposé of vitamin D deficiency among Americans:

    source: http://www.utne.com/Science-Technology/People-Arent-Getting-Enough-Sun-Vitamin-D.aspx

    The NY Times article says this, in a breezy essay about the wonderful world of advertising:
    Do remind me to ignore "science" from the inaptly (ineptly?) cited Council for Research Excellence on Thursday (sic).
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2009
  11. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I myself would always read it as it is written, based on the assumption that the author knew what was intended and wrote it accordingly.

    Is the x.5 unique in this regard, I wonder, among those who would read "one half" or "a half"? Would 8.25 be spoken as "a quarter" or "one fourth", and 8.33 as a third etc or 8.11 as a ninth?
  12. Æsop Banned

    Suburb of Washington, D.C.
    English--American (upstate NY)
    The original article(s) might well have implied a false precision. The use of 8.5 implies that the original measurement was accurate to the tenth of an hour—that the average was not 8.4 or 8.6. This could still be a rounding, and "about 8.5" could still accurately indicate that we don't know whether it's 8.47, 8.50, or 8.53. So if you are reading the data aloud, it would be more informative to listeners to say "eight point five" when you see "8.5." "Eight and a half" is an appropriate verbalization of "8½" (or of a written "eight and a half"). If the writer were being scrupulous about the data (not always the case), "8½" would tell the reader (or listener) that the data are only accurate to within half an hour, not within a tenth of an hour.

    Considering the additional info in this thread about the source, it's likely that the original datum is from a survey in which people were asked to estimate their screen time to the hour or half hour per day, the average before rounding being somewhere between 8.25 and 8.74 (if the average of all responses had been only 8.2, the report should have been "about eight"; if it had been 8.8, the report should have said "about nine"). Probably, "8.5" was used too loosely.

    In general, I would not assume less precision than indicated by the source. If it reads "8½," say "eight and a half"; if it reads "8.5," say "eight point five."
  13. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I would pronounce it "eight point five" because that is the way it was written.

    I would not have written it that way myself. I leave 8.5s, 9.0s and 10.0s for diving and gymnastic scores (and for judging pretty girls walking down the street, the male chauvinist that I am).

    I read (or sleep) for "eight and a half hours".

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