puzzling percent reference

Victor aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 29 16:19:42 UTC 2009

Sports expressions that involve percents in metaphors as a measure of
commitment or fitness, etc., are quite common. There is of course the
utterly idiotic, "I am giving it one hundred and ten percent!", as well
as various references to post-injury recovery, such as, "He is about 70%
fit right now and will be at about 90% by the end of the week." And, of
course, such language is not limited to sports.

But this British quote (from a French-speaking coach) is a new one for me.

"But the deal is maybe 90 per cent completed. However, the final 10 per
cent of any deal can be the most difficult."

Like most common expressions that involve percents, it is utterly devoid
of any objective measure. In this case, however, it is not even clear
what is being measured. Something (paperwork?) is 90% complete. But
something else (negotiations?) is clearly far less than 90% complete. Or
something like that.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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