Linguistic dark matter

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Sat Dec 18 05:25:19 UTC 2010

From:    Michael Quinion<wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG>
> David Barnhart wrote

>> If you haven't noticed I'm skeptical of the "tool".

> I'm certainly sceptical of that 52% "undocumented in standard references",
> which was why I quoted that sentence. The figure seems extremely high...

Not to mention extremely specific—and that's a problem, because people
are generally more likely to believe specific numbers (e.g., 52%) than
round ones, approximations, or ranges (e.g., respectively, 50%, a bit
over 50%, or 50–55%). The problem is that, given the assumptions they
make, they need to be giving an approximation or a range—giving a
specific number is unwarranted, but it makes for better headline.


David Bowie

The American Dialect Society -

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