a better than a year

duizihu

Member
Chinese
Hello,

I'm reading Wakulla Springs, a novella by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages. In it I found the following sentence:

That would more than triple up her piggy bank, and she’d been saving on that for a better than a year.

Could someone tell me "a better than a year" is how long exactly? Does it simply mean more than a year?

Thanks a lot.

 
  • Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Unless it's a usage I'm not familiar with, I think it's an error (or perhaps a bad translation). The author is either saying that she'd been saving for more than a year, or that she'd been saving for the better part of a year (meaning most of a year, nearly a full year).

    Hope that helps.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I made the mistake of finding the story and reading some of it. The text appears to be an attempt to represent southern black American dialect. It slides repeatedly and effortlessly from normal grammar to pantomime Uncle Tom's Cabin English and back again. That doesn't really explain why there's a meaningless indefinite article in 'for a better than a year', which I take to mean 'for more than a year' (the normal meaning of 'for better than a year').

    http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/10/wakulla-springs - Enjoy! (or perhaps not)
     

    duizihu

    Member
    Chinese
    Yes, the dialect does give me a lot of trouble. And thanks for your effort, actually finding the story and reading it.
     

    wordwriter

    New Member
    english - USA
    I made the mistake of finding the story and reading some of it. The text appears to be an attempt to represent southern black American dialect. It slides repeatedly and effortlessly from normal grammar to pantomime Uncle Tom's Cabin English and back again. That doesn't really explain why there's a meaningless indefinite article in 'for a better than a year', which I take to mean 'for more than a year' (the normal meaning of 'for better than a year').

    Hello,

    I am one of the authors of the story, "Wakulla Springs." We did extensive research for the dialect in this story., using WPA interviews and oral histories. It is not just "southern black American dialect," nor is it "Unlce Tom's Cabin English." It is very specific to the Panhandle area of Florida in the 1940s. US dialect changes greatly from region to region, as well as decade to decade.

    "... for better than a year," means for longer than a year. (The meaningless indefinite article, "for a better than..." is an unfortunate error that occurred when the manuscript was formatted for e-book and digital use.)

    -- Ellen Klages
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    The expression "for better than a year", meaning "for more than a year", is not confined to the Florida Panhandle. It would have quite normal in some other parts of the Southern U.S.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    "For better than a year" is totally normal the two states I've lived in (California and Indiana). I actually think it's totally normal everywhere in the US, but that might be overstating it.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    For better than a year sounds completely normal to me as well, and means "for more than a year" not "for the better part of (most of) a year." However, for a better than a year does not sound right at all.
     
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