Posted in Linguistic Annoyances at 12:00 pm on 3 September 2012
I caught Lorraine Pascale in passing on the TV a week or so ago and was pleased to hear her say “100 mill” (or whatever the volume was) when she was referring to adding in some liquid to a recipe.
Quite often when reading out or quoting a measurement others – particularly medics – will say instead, “mills” – which really grates on me.
I would have no argument if they spoke out the unit in full and said millilitres but mills is just innumerate (and illiterate.)
A unit’s abbreviation subsumes the plural – it is singular or plural depending on the measurement’s value and is always written as singular.
For instance 0C stands for degrees Celsius whether or not the temperature is 10C (1 degree Celsius,) 250C (25 degrees Celsius,) 4500C (450 degrees Celsius,) or even 00C (0 degrees Celsius.) Note the plural in that last one. Only values of 1 or -1 have the unit pronounced in the singular when read out or written in full.
Hence 1ml (one millilitre) but 20 ml (20 millilitres) etc.
100 ml ought to be pronounced 100 mill as Pascale did; not 100 mills.
Mills are where wheat is ground into flour, or else factories of one sort or another (but checkout the Wiki page for a full list!).