Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Problem of the "Vast Majority"

I heard a speaker last night that mentioned "the vast majority" so often that I remarked to a friend, " I have a new cliche."

"What's that?"

On encountering a rare occurrence, you simply say, "That's as rare as an un-vast majority."

As I have written before, there are a lot of little nuances of the English language.  I mentioned before that the word "unique" cannot use a modifier, despite that "most unique" does NOT qualify to be "as rare as an un-vast majority."

For some reason, "vast majority" sounds much better to speakers than "most".  For some reason, majorities don't convey anything but 51% or more, so "vast" suggests something above... 75% maybe??

Well, the speaker was otherwise pretty good, so I guess I really have little about which to complain.  Someone once pointed out that,

"A speech is a solemn responsibility. The man who makes a bad thirty-minute speech to two hundred people waste only a half hour of his own time.But he wastes one hundred hours of the audience's time - more than four days - which should be a hanging offense."
~ Jenkin Lloyd Jones

When I think about all the people who have to listen to me speak, I guess I shouldn't worry so much about anyone else's English, the vast majority of the time.

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