[Ads-l] Phrase: more than (less than) three hundred degrees below zero

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 24 15:14:10 UTC 2022

And then there's the ambiguity over "subpar" -- good on the golf course,
bad elsewhere.


On Sun, Apr 24, 2022 at 8:46 AM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>

> Laurence Horn wrote:
> > yes, another symptom of the confusion produced by negatively-oriented
> > scales, along the perennial question (around Wimbledon, the NCAA college
> > basketball tournaments, etc.) about whether a 5th seed is a higher or
> lower
> > seed than a 12th seed.
> Thanks for an excellent example, LH.
> It appears that "draft pick" is another example of a
> "negatively-oriented scale" or "reverse scale".
> People use phrases such as "draft pick number 3", "draft pick number
> five", and "the fifth draft pick".
> Yet, in common parlance a "higher draft pick" means a numerically
> lower draft pick.
> Also, a "lower draft pick" means a numerically higher draft pick.
> Perhaps the sense of "higher" meaning "better" dominates the
> underlying numerical sense.
> No doubt linguists have already examined this topic. Apologies for
> boring the knowledgeable.

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

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