# Is the form of %100 instead of 100% a different language useage?June 12, 2004 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Saw a post here yesterday that referred to percentages in the form of %100 instead of 100%, that is, moving the percentage sign in front of the number.

I've never come across that usage; any leads on whether it's a cultural/language issue?

Also, I'd be interested in learning about any other typographic variations you've come across. Things like swapping the usage of commas and decimal points in Spain (as in \$10.000,34). Or the French convention of using a dash instead of quotation marks to delineate new paragraphs of dialog.
posted by Jeff Howard to Society & Culture (10 answers total)

I know that Germans swap the decimal points and commas (so 10.000 = ten thousand and 10,1% = ten point one percent, although it would still be pronounced as "zehn komma eins prozent"). German also has strange quotation marks that I haven't seen used much online -- they look ,,like this''.

No idea about the percentage thing, though, except to say that another variation I've seen a lot is "100pc". I have no idea why people use that.
posted by reklaw at 8:44 AM on June 12, 2004

Mathematically speaking, % just means 1/100, and the concatenation means multiplication. Multiplication is commutative, so %50 is the same as 50% so it really doesn't matter.

As far as other typographics go, the dutch use the 10.000.000,02 format too. You could probably get a good census of which country uses what by looking at your computers localisation settings, they usually list country names in combination with the behaviour of decimal points etc.
posted by fvw at 9:54 AM on June 12, 2004

don't forget the indians with their lakhs and crores

i always find that one hard to adjust to, being used to the "regular" jumps of 3 digits.
posted by dvdgee at 10:06 AM on June 12, 2004

I'd always assumed that the percent sign was derived from the notation "/100", since the name for it (per cent) is. So 50% = "50/100", fifty per hundred. Likewise the "per mille" sign: 250‰ = "250/1000". In which case it doesn't make sense to move the sign to the front of the number in English, but it probably does in some languages.
posted by hattifattener at 11:27 AM on June 12, 2004

Just remember that 3d4 means that you roll the four-sided die once, and 4d10 means that you roll the ten-sided die four times.
posted by bingo at 11:29 AM on June 12, 2004

s/once/three times
posted by bingo at 11:30 AM on June 12, 2004

spanish uses «these symbols» to quote things. I think they are pretty.
posted by rhyax at 1:08 PM on June 12, 2004

I expect it's foreigners overregularizing English.
• English: \$10,000
• French: 10 000 \$
• French-speaker learns English orthography
• French-speaker attempts to write 10% the "English" way, unaware that it is exactly the same as the French way save for a thin space
• Result: %10
Native English-speakers with lower literacy see this notation and copy it.
posted by joeclark at 6:41 PM on June 12, 2004

French uses the same angled quotes rhyax manages to put in his comment (how did he do that?). It also uses an extra space before a colon or a semicolon, which is hard to get used to writing.
posted by fuzz at 3:22 AM on June 13, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the examples. joeclark's reasoning sounds plausible. I'm going with that.
posted by Jeff Howard at 10:36 AM on June 13, 2004

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