[fpc-pascal]Compiler uses bad English: "amount" vs "number"

Rich Pasco pasco at acm.org
Mon May 27 16:13:09 CEST 2002

Michael.VanCanneyt at Wisa.be wrote:

> I've changed the message file accordingly in the main branch.

Thank you.

> Just out of curiosity:
> I don't want to argue - I'm not an native english speaker - but what do you
> do with 'A huge amount of money' - something which I hear often on US
> TV shows ? Money is countable, so shouldn't it be 'number' then ?

I have heard the expression "to count money" but your money is not
always an integer.  You can easily have a fraction of a Euro.  Many
monetary amounts are expressed to several decimal places.  You can
have a huge amount of money but a only huge number of coins.  You can
have 3.25 Euros in your pocket but not 3.25 parameters in a Pascal
function call.  So it's "amount of money" but "number of parameters"
like "number of coins."

Matt Emson wrote:

> As a British English speaker, I find the two terms interchangable.

Amazingly, some English speakers don't understand the subtle difference.

Neil Graham wrote:

> Just to be extra nitpicky.  If you want to be precise I would recommend
> 'Incorrect number of parameters'.  'Wrong' has multiple meanings and while
> unlikely, it would be problematic if someone thought that the number of
> parameters that they had used was morally impermissible. ;-)

I think that "Wrong" and "Incorrect" are synonyms, but I understand your
point about not making a moral judgement.  Perhaps "Mismatch in number
of parameters" would be a good message?

I remember in the old DOS days people felt scolded by the "Bad command
or file name" message.

     - Rich

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