|The Universe of Discourse|
12 recent entries
Thu, 31 Jan 2008
McCain has won all of the state's 57 delegates, and the last primary before voters in more than 20 states head to the polls next Tuesday.Why "more than 20 states"? Why not just say "23 states", which is shorter and conveys more information?
I'm not trying to pick on CTV here. A Google News search finds 42,000 instances of "more than 20", many of which could presumably be replaced with "26" or whatever. Well, I had originally written "most of which", but then I looked at some examples, and found that the situation is better than I thought it would be. Here are the first ten matches:
#2 may be legitimate, if the number of cases of aerial espionage is not known with certitude, or if the anonymous source really did say "more than 20". Similarly #4 is entirely off the hook since it is a quotation.
#3 may be legitimate if the price of farmland is uncertain and close to 20%. #5 is probably a loser. #7 is definitely a loser: it was the headline of an article that began "Nine people were killed and at least 22 injured when...". The headline could certainly have been "9 killed, 22 injured in bus accident".
#8 and #9 are losers, but they are the same example with which I began the article, so they don't count. #10 is a loser.
So I have, of eight examples (disregarding #8 and #9) three certain or near-certain failures (#5, #7, and #10), one certain non-failure (#4), and four cases to which I am willing to extend the benefit of the doubt. This is not as bad as I feared. I like when things turn out better than I thought they would.
But I really wonder what is going on with all these instances of "more than 20 states". Is it just sloppy writing? Or is there some benefit that I am failing to appreciate?