# The Spanish Billion is a Trillion, which in Spanish, is a Quintillion (etc.)

I've noticed after translating some articles that deal with large numbers, that in Spanish, there are a lot of false cognates. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Million=Millón | Billion=Mil Millones | One Trillion=Billón | Quadrillion=Mil Billones | Quintillion=Trillón ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ On top of that, the numbers don't seem to uniform throughout the Spanish Speaking world (Sometimes the cognates mean the same as they do in English). Either way, this could cause some colossal misunderstandings (to the order of thousands, millions, etc. of times off) so heads up when translating, maybe it's safest to steer clear of those sentences, lest there be some translations incorrectly stating the World population at seven trillion, or the US debt at just \$15 Billion.

6 years ago

I have to agree with @almonaster.

It's called long/short scale. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_and_short_scales

If you are like me...and like a video format to teach you. Check out this 9 minute video with a bit of humor. http://youtu.be/C-52AI_ojyQ

6 years ago

Wow, this is completely new to me. I've always been confused by number translations between my language and English, now I finally understand, thanks! :).

4 years ago

dexedge
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Incidentally, I think there is even variance in usage of these words in the English-speaking world.

6 years ago

Another one I have seen cause a lot of confusion is the European decimal standard, where comma and period are interchanged (for once the UK and US agree). So 7.250 often translates as 7,250 and 3,142 as 3.142 - you need to check the context carefully to be sure.

6 years ago

It may be a new world/old world thing. British usage used to be that a billion was a million million, a trillion was a million billion and so on. The American usage of a billion is a thousand million, a trillion a thousand billion is slowly taking over by mass of speakers.

There are other differences, too - UK (and AFAIK European) usage has ground floor, then first, second, etc. whereas in the Americas the first floor is on the ground, and two floors up is the third.

6 years ago

dexedge
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This from spanish.about.com is helpful, even if it doesn't entirely solve the problem for translators: "Millions and more: Numbers larger than the millions can get problematic in both English and Spanish. Traditionally, a billion has been a thousand million in U.S. English but a million million in British English, and Spanish has followed the British standard, with a trillion being a thousand billions in either case. Thus 1,000,000,000,000 would be a billion in British English but a trillion in U.S. English. Precise Spanish, following the British understanding, uses mil millones for 1,000,000,000 and billón for 1,000,000,000,000, while trillón is 1,000,000,000,000,000. But U.S. English has influenced English outside the U.S. and Spanish as well, especially in Latin America, so there can be confusion both in Latin America and among English speakers outside the United States about exactly what a billion or billón is."

6 years ago

dexedge
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@Kelvinsong: As for what we should do when translating, I guess one should assume that "billón" = American English "trillion" unless there is compelling evidence otherwise, since this is still the accepted "correct usage. That makes "billón" something like a false cognate, at least for speakers of American English. I think this confusion is also a potential problem for a crowd-sourced translation model like Duolingo's, since it's clear that in the case of the vocabulary article, the probably incorrect translation of "billón" as "billion" seems clearly to be "winning" (at least based on frequency of usage). For the translator, there is also the test of whether a particular translation makes sense. In the case of the vocubulary article, trillion seems much more likely to be the intended number than billion.

6 years ago

dexedge
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Yes, I was just grappling with this problem in translating an article that was discussing the growth in the number of words printed per year since the invention of the printing press. I'm pretty sure "billón" here was intended to mean "trillion," but it looked to me as if most people translating it had given "billion."

6 years ago

dwarven_hydra
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I thought they used "Miliardo" for billion, like the rest of Europe (including England until more recently, apparently). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-52AI_ojyQ

5 years ago

MystyrNile
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Those aren't false cognates at all, we mostly use the short scale, and Spaniards the long. Short Long Spanish Million Million Millón Billion Milliard Mil millones Trillion Billion Billón Quadrillion Billiard Mil Billones Quintillion Trillion Trillón Sextillion Trilliard Mil trillones

5 years ago

MystyrNile
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Okay, I had set up a nice grid with tabs between the words, and DL removed them all, along with the line breaks. :(

5 years ago

Mathso2
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Double enter for line breaks ;)

3 years ago

Still, what do we do when translating?

6 years ago

Pifta
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There is even difference between my language (Hungarian) and English, Spanish is a 3rd way to say a large number. Cosfusing, yes.

4 years ago

the spanish language was before the english language, so we are the wrong one's with numbers

2 years ago