score = '20' in headline

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 31 06:56:05 UTC 2002

At 2:37 PM -0500 1/31/02, Mark A Mandel wrote:
>I was pleased (only linguistically!) to see this morning's top headline
>in the Boston _Globe_:
>         Scores of priests involved in sex abuse cases
>It's always refreshing to find a good old word popping up in a register
>where it has been obsolescent. The lede (sic, 'first sentence of the
>article')  specifies the number as "at least 70".
Assuming the intention here wasn't to create a somewhat off-color
pun, I would guess the use of "scores" rather than "dozens" here was
motivated by the informality of the latter and/or the greater
cardinality of the former.  Obviously if there had been 300 involved,
"Hundreds of..." would have been used, but since "scores" is the next
approximator down from "hundreds", it's more felicitious for evoking
an approximated value in the 60-90 range.  The hard part is NOT
thinking about the pun once you've thought of it.


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