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22063
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location Marseille, France
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Elected moderator on Unix & Linux. Feel free to @ping me in chat if there's anything I can help you with.

Son of a Greek mother and an American father. I may have grown up in Greece, but since my father is a publisher/editor/writer and lover of "Correct English", conversation around the dinner table often centered on English grammar and vocabulary games.

profile for terdon on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites


Nov
23
answered A word meaning <a short article or essay>
Nov
23
reviewed Approve suggested edit on A word meaning <a short article or essay>
Nov
23
revised What is the word to describe a situation when rival gangs come together to figure out who is stronger?
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Nov
23
revised What is the word to describe a situation when rival gangs come together to figure out who is stronger?
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Nov
23
revised What is the word to describe a situation when rival gangs come together to figure out who is stronger?
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Nov
23
answered What is the word to describe a situation when rival gangs come together to figure out who is stronger?
Nov
22
comment Why “hoist” in “Hoist with one's own petard”?
Strictly speaking, pétar never meant fart, that's péter. But yes, pétard derives from it. However, petard entered English in the 16th century from the French pétard and it already meant "small bomb". I very much doubt that Shakespeare's audiences knew of the etymology of the French word. That would be like expecting English audiences to get the pun if you make a joke about sycophants and figs. Remember that Shakespeare's audiences were not educated people and that he was not above the odd, more direct, fart joke.
Nov
21
comment Is there an -ocracy term for rule by tenure?
Please explain the context in which you want to use this word. In everyday conversation? IN an academic paper? If the former, you could coin tenurocracy (it even appears someone already has).
Nov
21
comment What does 'TL;DR' mean and how is it used?
@tunny you might be as surprised as I was to learn that OMG can apparently be traced back to 1917.
Nov
19
comment Possessive-S/apostrophe in a list, including the first and second person
JoAnne has a point. I think most of use would simply avoid this kind of unwieldy sentence and just use a different phrasing.
Nov
19
comment Why does “a bigger number of” seem wrong?
I know, that's what prompted the question. What I'm wondering about is why. I think it comes down to your first point about physical size, or perhaps what Mitch mentioned about continuity. As for the of, it is relevant. 5 is a bigger number than 3 is far less jarring than there was a bigger number of people than expected and that is what I find intriguing. Perhaps because one is actually describing the number's "size" as opposed to the amount of people.
Nov
19
comment Why does “a bigger number of” seem wrong?
Thanks, but my question is focused on bigger number of and not bigger number alone. In any case, your quote is about big number which is not really relevant. Also, I mention the difference in register in the question and state that I'm not entirely convinced that is enough. Can you provide any more evidence for it as an explanation? I am also not at all sure that mathematicians don't use big number. Authors from other fields certainly seem to.
Nov
19
revised Why does “a bigger number of” seem wrong?
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Nov
19
revised Why does “a bigger number of” seem wrong?
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Nov
19
comment bigger/larger number of mole(s)
@Kris I posted a question about this in case you're interested.
Nov
19
comment Why does “a bigger number of” seem wrong?
@Cerberus yes, big is, or can be, slightly less formal than number of. I was not trying to dismiss it, that's a valid point. The more I think about it the more I agree that it is certainly contributing. I'm just not yet convinced that this discrepancy in register is enough to explain why a big/bigger number of sound so wrong to me. For example I have a suspicion it might be because _big implies physical size more than magnitude but phrases like a big problem would seem to belie that.
Nov
18
asked Why does “a bigger number of” seem wrong?
Nov
18
revised bigger/larger number of mole(s)
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Nov
18
comment bigger/larger number of mole(s)
@Kris of course it's an opinion, I never claimed otherwise. I even said that "I can't tell you why". I also did not use an NGram in my answer but only in response to your comment. All I said was that it seems to agree with my opinion but if you don't like that, feel free to run a search on COCA where (if I understand the results correctly) greater number has a collocation score of 6.3 versus 0.2 for bigger number.
Nov
18
comment bigger/larger number of mole(s)
@Kris well, because bigger sounds plain wrong to me. I can't really tell you why, but a bigger problem sounds fine while a bigger number sounds like something a child would say. Popular usage as expressed in this NGram certainly seems to agree with me.