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

Aitor Santamaria Merino aitor.sm at wanadoo.es
Tue May 28 00:38:35 CEST 2002


Personally I agree with the fact that it's nice to hear from people 
caring about using accurate English in the compiler, with the hope that 
this will help to reduce possible confusions derived from using bad English.
Having said that, I also admit that I expected that this kind of 
problems should involve at most two or three messages, until it seems to 
be correct and agreed, and the developers make such a change.
In my opinion, in this cases, the only thing one can do is to check 
documentation, but as (in my opinion, unfortunately) there's no English 
Language Academy (as there's for example, for Spanish language), the 
resources one can check can be partial.

On my side, and with the idea of clarifying this at all, I have checked 
several books by "Collins Cobuild" (Birmingham University), which in my 
opinion collect a useful database of (British and American, and probably 
others') English ussage.
As a result of the research, I was unable to determine if "AMOUNT" can 
be used for both countable and uncountable nouns. It can be used for 
uncountable nouns for sure, and in fact, all the examples I have seen 
were made using uncountable nouns. The only thing I've found is this: 
"English ussage" says:
   "You do not talk about an ammount of things or people"
And as an example, it says:
   INCORRECT: "amount of chairs"
   CORRECT: "number of chairs"
But does not mention the words "countable" or "uncountable" explicitely.

Just as an English student, I am of the opinion that "amount" is perhaps 
to be used with uncountable nouns, and "number" for countable, just as 
"much" is used for uncountable and "many" for countable. Personally, the 
option that I like best is Rich's one, "Mismatch in number of parameters"


PS: "MONEY" is uncountable, according to ANY Collins cobuild reference. 
Please, do remember that uncountable does not mean "unmeasurable". MILK 
is uncountable, but you measure it by litres or paints. I suppose I pay 
more attention to this because in languages coming from latin the 
difference between countable/uncountable doesn't seem to be so important 
as it is in English (and I guess in German (?)).

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