I am currently reading a code of practice called IRC:6-2014, which is the Indian standard for highway loading. It is written in English, but much of the phrasing doesn't scan well for me, as a native English speaker.

One phrase which I am particularly having trouble with is:

two axles spaced not more than 1.2m centres

Firstly, to clarify for non-engineers, "centres" is commonly used in engineering to mean "the distance from the centre of one object to the centre of the next".

My issue is that I read this phrase as meaning "two axles with a centre-to-centre spacing of between 0 and 1.2m". Given other clauses in IRC:6-2014, this would be inconsistent. I am therefore wondering whether in Indian-English, the phrase should be taken to mean "two axles with a centre-to-centre spacing of 1.2m or more". 1.2m itself is clearly valid, as the spacing is labelled 1.2m in a nearby figure.

Can anyone (especially any natives of India) confirm whether the latter is a possible interpretation?

  • 4
    I'm not sure how "spaced not more than" can be taken to mean "spaced at least" in any dialect of English. Could it be feasible that it's a misprint and the word not should simply have been omitted?
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 7, 2015 at 10:22
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    @AndrewLeach - I don't think the word not should simply have been omitted, given that 1.2m itself is clearly valid (there's a diagram, where the spacing is labelled as 1.2m). Also the phrase appears twice, for similar vehicles. Although it is possible that the error was made for one vehicle, and copy-paste ensured the same error occurred for the other vehicle.
    – AndyT
    Jul 7, 2015 at 10:27
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    Absent any further context I would take it to mean that the two axles must be no farther apart than 1.2m.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 7, 2015 at 12:49
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    ""two axles with a centre-to-centre spacing of 1.2m or less".
    – moonstar
    Jul 7, 2015 at 15:20
  • "Given other clauses in IRC:6-2014, this would be inconsistent." Could you please elaborate on this? In the pictures following the first occurrence of your text (my copy says 1.22m btw) the shown 1.200 meters is consistent with the text. Which other clauses do you think contradict your reading of this line?
    – oerkelens
    Jul 27, 2015 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


From one Andy to another. :P

First of all, I'm Indian. I've had to deal with several books by Indian editors so I know where you're coming from (note: not Indian authors; even if their language is unclear, I blame just editors. They sucked at the one job they had).

No, it simply cannot mean "1.2m or more". No way. Your first interpretation is correct and it struck me when I read the sentence as well.

"Two axles spaced not more than 1.2m from centre to centre."

  • 1
    Unless it's a typographical error, where the intended text was "not less than".
    – user129823
    Jul 27, 2015 at 14:45

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