nomconjobjs: between you and me/I (UNCLASSIFIED)

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 22 23:00:18 UTC 2010

I agree with Bill.  "Outnumbers by a factor of..." as I've said is strange terminology to me and I wondered if it were common anywhere.  It' is confusing as Bill pointed out.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL7+
see phonetic spelling

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Arnold Zwicky
> Subject: Re: nomconjobjs: between you and me/I (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Feb 22, 2010, at 11:47 AM, Bill Mullins wrote:
>> [quoting VS] " By your interpretation, A can "outnumber" B "by a
>> factor of" 1. I
>> simply fail to see this as a possibility."
>> And that is the root of the problem. "Outnumber" refers to an
>> additive
>> excess,
> in your mind perhaps. but all "A outnumbers B" says is the number of
> As exceeds the number of Bs; it doesn't say how how the excess is
> calculated. and indeed the OED (draft revision of Dec. 2007) has two
> examples for "outnumber" with a standard of comparison stipulated: D.
> Defoe, 1720, with "their Infantry, which out-numbered ours by 1500
> (additive)"; H. Brooke, 1768, with "They out numbered us three to
> one" (multiplicative). i'd venture to say that a huge number of
> current speakers would accept either standard of comparison.
>> and "factor" refers to a multiplicative operation. The two
>> terms don't work well together, and ambiguities can result.
> there are few criticisms of a usage more lame than "ambiguities can
> result". the language around us is drenched with, saturated with,
> potential ambiguities, only a small percentage of which are actually
> problematic in context. (if you intend to eliminate all potential
> ambiguity in natural languages, you might as well commit yourself to a
> lonely, languageless life. or you could learn the conlang Lojban.)
> arnold
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