Sheepdog Report

A sheepdog brings a flock of sheep back to the farm at day's end. "I brought back 30 sheep," the dog tells the farmer. "But I only have 27 sheep," the farmer protests.  "Oh, I know," said the sheepdog. "I rounded them up."

What's So Funny?

The expression "to round up" has two meanings:

1. In mathematics, rounding means going to the next even number.  If the total is 26, 27, 28, or 29, it will be "rounded up" to 30  If the total is 24, 23, 22, or 21, it will be "rounded down" to 20.

2. In herding, like in police work, "rounding up" means gathering together many stray individuals (for example, sheep or cows in ranching, or criminal suspects in policing).

Alan Headbloom

Alan advises Americans how to be global citizens and expats how to fit in to Michigan culture without annoying their native coworkers and clients. He also tweets and blogs at the intersection of language and culture. Over decades, he's traveled, studied, or lived on six continents, putting strange foods into his mouth and emitting strange sounds from it. His use of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Hausa, and Japanese all improve with alcohol use. He gives invited public presentations on culture and unsolicited private advice on English grammar and usage; the latter isn't always appreciated. Visit his website for information on consulting, coaching, or speaking engagements.