mmm_words (mmm_words) wrote in linguaphiles,
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Discussing currency in English

Hello Linguaphiles, 
I'm L1 American English, L2 Spanish.  I'm in the middle of a debate with a friend (L1 Spanish, L2 English) who teaches English in Peru.  He asked me how people talk about currency in English--for example, if you want to say S/. 6.30 in words, what would you say?

I said that I would probably say "Six soles and thirty cents."  He argues that it should be "Six soles and thirty centimos," to reflect both the name of the currency and the word for "cents."  My reasoning is that, in a casual conversation, stating the name of the currency is sufficient identification, and that I would say "cents" out of habit (in addition to the sad fact that about 1% of the Americans I know have any clue what the currency of Peru is, much less that "centimos" are "cents").  He countered by asking how to say "S/. .30," which I was at a loss to answer.  

So, which form is correct?  
If by some chance it's acceptable to say "Six soles and thirty cents," would the word "cents" be dependent on the speaker's home currency unit? (e.g., Would you express it as "six soles and thirty pence" in the UK? Is that a silly question?)


Update/resolution:  My initial response (use "soles" accompanied by "cents") was much more ethnocentric than I'd realized.  The general consensus appears to be "soles" accompanied by the appropriate subunit, "céntimos."   Thanks for your responses!  
Tags: howdoyousay, numbers
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