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Vicki High

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putting figures to words...

Just wondering what number people would allocate to certain terms such as "more" and "most". eg, If someone says to me, "most Australians like sport" I would consider "most" to be somewhere around 80%. Curious as to how we use language to describe numbers.

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    Jul 12 2013: I predict most (70% or more) of the responses you get will not commit to a repeatable number/word correlation. I think more people who read your post (70%) will respond while some (20%) will read it and not respond. Some TEDsters (10%) will read the headline only, and a few (3%) will not notice at all. Remember, I am very (67 years) old, so don't attach much significance to my ramblings. Be (100%) well!
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      Jul 13 2013: I think the data analytics team for Ted can verify your estimation. I'm not calling anyone out or anything, nope... >_>
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        Jul 13 2013: If TED can't I'm confident (99%) the NSA can since they have all (100%) the data.
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          Jul 13 2013: LOL

          they can have all the data they want, but that still doesn't mean they'll understand people.
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    Jul 15 2013: For me at least:

    Majority- +55%
    Most- +65%
    Many- +75%


    On a more jocular note:

    Weird- +90%
    Every- +100%
    None- 0-2%
    Infinite- 30-35%
    Plenty- Enough%

    and let's see...

    One-tenth- 15%
  • Jul 19 2013: just listening to a talk on the radio and one of the commentators used the expression "vast majority" - how do people interpret this term? For me a majority could be as low as 51% but 'vast majority' would be up around the 80% mark...any comments, anyone??
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      Aug 12 2013: Vicki High - Hi!
      I agree with you, but in my experience, the "vast majority" of politicians interpret anything they want as either the 'vast majority' or the 'majority' of USA-Americans. Whatever they want to say, is what "the great silent-majority of the American public believe and wish for themselves and for the future!"

      Because it's the 'silent majority' (the people they refer to) who are all those good, hard-working U.S. Americans who don't respond to telephone opinion polls. Their voice is only heard on election day. Election day is when they choose to vote their conscience. Those are the good folks who voted for the W. and later for American Hero, John McCain. They kept Al Gore, John Kerry, Jim Carey, and Mormon Mitt out of the White House. Too many sat out for the Tea Party business and John McCain didn't get elected. That's a shame too.
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    Jul 13 2013: Understand your point with " more" "most" etc. To me it's really " more" difficult to quantify some other qualitative words but even then those are in use and we understand something from those words. Say if we use the word " honest " , "truthful" for someone do we try to quantify that ? I mean what percentage time of her/his life s/he is honest or truthful ?
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    Jul 13 2013: The perceived "most" for me is probably 60% at least for most instances.
    • Jul 15 2013: I seem to be the high rater for "most" - to me most means 'almost all' not just the majority...
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        Jul 16 2013: This is actually interesting that "Most" means different things to different people.

        Once again, proves the point that not everybody perceives the same thing.
  • Jul 12 2013: The dictionary defijnition of "MOST" is:

    most [mohst] Show IPA
    adjective superl. of much or many with more as compar.
    1. in the greatest quantity, amount, measure, degree, or number: to win the most votes.
    2. in the majority of instances: Most operations are successful.
    3. greatest, as in size or extent: the most talent.

    Fritzie refers to 51% which based on the above definition may be correct...however, I am less curious about the strict definition of these sort of words than with the way in which we use them...

    We may say to someone "be back soon" - but what exactly is soon? To a degree I suspect it would depend on context - if we were just discussing our up-coming holiday, "soon" may mean a couple of weeks whereas if we had excused ourselves to go to the bathroom, "soon" presumably means minutes... What I would like to know is how consistent we are with our use of these 'figure words' - if "most" for me means somewhere over 70-80% but for Fritzie means 51% or just over half, we may end up with some weird conversations!
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    Jul 12 2013: To me "most" is over 50%, but if I were discussing a subject with someone in order to reach understanding, I would likely share the percent rather than say "most."

    "More" to me means that if you subtract from it, you have something left over. But in many practical contexts, the standard is statistical significance or practical significance. Sometimes two measurables are so close that it is misleading to suggests there is a difference, practically speaking.

    The 51% version of "most" may fail the practical significance test.
  • Jul 12 2013: Then I'd better say "Thank you Mr Long"...

    How about time? What do people think "soon" means? Or "old" even? (though, for me, the last one goes up every time I have a birthday!!)