disclaimer inclusiveness

Thu Nov 17 15:40:38 UTC 2011

I would say that "with few side effects" is more informative than "with a few side effects."  If I hear "with a few side effects," I don't really feel comfortable that I have a good sense of how many side effects there are or how frequently they occur.  If I hear "with few side effects," I'm being told that, although there potentially are side effects, they manifest in only a small proportion of cases.

Potential side effects often include death.  If the medication is to reduce cold symptoms - a mild disorder for which there are many alternative treatments - then that side effect is a big deal.  If the medication is to treat an otherwise incurable cancer, then the risk of death may be entirely acceptable.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:49 AM
Subject: Re: disclaimer inclusiveness


So what if one of the few side effects may be "death," as is
occasionally the case? Ask your doctor about it!


On Thu, Nov 17, 2011 at 8:29 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: disclaimer inclusiveness
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 11/16/2011 09:52 PM, Neal Whitman wrote:
>>I also find it strange in those commercials when they say "X is
>>associated with few [not "a few"] side effects, including ..."
> Here I suspect "with few side effects" is intended to sound like
> fewer than "with a few side effects".  Something with "a few side
> effects" sounds dangerous.
> Joel

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