a more or less high number of printed pages

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raymondaliasapollyon

Banned
Chinese
Hi,

If we say a book is "a more or less high number of printed pages bound together," what does "more or less" mean?
Does it mean "almost"?

I'd appreciate your help.
 
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi,

    If we say a book is "a more or less high number of printed pages bound together," what does "more or less" mean?
    Does it mean "almost"?

    I'd appreciate your help.
    Hi Ray,

    The problem with this definition is that "more or less" could only modify "high" but it doesn't collocate with "high" in the way that "reasonably" would, for example.

    I'd be skeptical about this definition anyway: for instance, is a printed screenplay a book? ;)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Your question is about "more or less high". That is nonsense in English. The meanings of few, many and most are completely irrelevant to your question.

    If we say a book is "a more or less high number of printed pages bound together,"
    If we say that, we would be using a truly ridiculous definition of "book". There are thousands of books that were never printed.

    A German speaker suggested it as a translation of a German phrase.
    This is not a translation forum.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Banned
    Chinese
    Your question is about "more or less high". That is nonsense in English. The meanings of few, many and most are completely irrelevant to your question.

    Relevant in the sense that the issue might involve metalinguistic use.

    If we say that, we would be using a truly ridiculous definition of "book". There are thousands of books that were never printed.

    That is really irrelevant, as the issue is not about whether or not a book should be defined that way.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would be fascinated if you could explain how the metalinguistic use of few, many and most could make "a more or less high number of printed pages bound together" any less nonsensical.

    You are asking a question about an erroneous translation of German into English and seem to wish, somehow, to persuade English speakers that the translation is actually perfectly good English. It is not. You could, of course, take the original German and the strange translation to a German/English forum to see what German/English bilingual speakers make of it.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    I have seen “a more or less large number”, meaning that the number is variable but relatively large. It doesn’t work with high or many. To me this is entirely to do with idiom and has nothing to do with metalinguistics. As you have seen, most native speakers would reject using “more or less” in this way, so I’d recommend that learners avoid it.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    For those who may be interested: the same questioner has started a similar discussion in the German forum:
    mehr oder minder viele
    Apparently, an idiom corresponding to ''a more or less large number of..'' does really exist in German.
    But as Glasguensis said:
    I have seen “a more or less large number”, meaning that the number is variable but relatively large. It doesn’t work with high or many.
    and this thread asked about high.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Banned
    Chinese
    I would be fascinated if you could explain how the metalinguistic use of few, many and most could make "a more or less high number of printed pages bound together" any less nonsensical.
    I'm not implying "a more or less high number of..." is sensical, nor am I taking it as an example of the metalinguistic function.
    I was referring to "more than 'many,' or less than 'many'" as a metalinguistic use.

    A metalanguage is a (form of) language used to discuss language. The Merriam-Webster sentence is one example.
    You are asking a question about an erroneous translation of German into English and seem to wish, somehow, to persuade English speakers that the translation is actually perfectly good English. It is not. You could, of course, take the original German and the strange translation to a German/English forum to see what German/English bilingual speakers make of it.

    No, I'm trying to explore a possibility exhaustively.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Banned
    Chinese
    I have seen “a more or less large number”, meaning that the number is variable but relatively large. It doesn’t work with high or many. To me this is entirely to do with idiom and has nothing to do with metalinguistics. As you have seen, most native speakers would reject using “more or less” in this way, so I’d recommend that learners avoid it.

    Could “a more or less large number” be used when the speaker doesn't know what quantity "many" means to other people?
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    It can only be used that way, since we have no way of knowing what quantity « many » implies to other people.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Banned
    Chinese
    It can only be used that way, since we have no way of knowing what quantity « many » implies to other people.

    Then this usage presupposes a measure of metalinguistic awareness in that the speaker would have to know his or her conception of "many" might not coincide with others' and the use of the word "many" is speaker-dependent.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    One problem here is that 'more or less' means 'roughly' or 'about' or 'to some extent' or 'somewhat'. That's the meaning we immediately see when we see 'more or less' in a sentence. It rarely, if ever, means 'More (of X) or less (of X).

    So you need to say something like "Does 'few' imply more than or less than 'many'?"
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If we say a book is "a more or less high number of printed pages bound together," what does "more or less" mean?
    Does it mean "almost"?
    If you’d phrased this as if we said that, would it mean almost, then the answer would be yes. But in practice, as has been made clear, native English speakers would not express it that way because it’s unidiomatic. What they might very well say, though, is:

    A book is a certain number of printed pages bound together.​
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    Hi,

    If we say a book is "a more or less high number of printed pages bound together," what does "more or less" mean?
    Does it mean "almost"?

    I'd appreciate your help.
    No, "more or less" does not mean "almost." It makes no sense to say "a book is an almost high number of printed pages...".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I was referring to "more than 'many,' or less than 'many'" as a metalinguistic use.
    If I understand "metalinguistic use" as you intend it, then

    A: "Were there many there?"
    B: "Many"! There were more than "many" - the whole place was heaving - you could hardly breathe!" - Note the punctuation.

    is correct.

    However, I remind myself that your question was
    If we say a book is "a more or less high number of printed pages bound together,"
    If we say that very often,we would find ourselves in a psychiatric hospital or being diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage: It defies all logic.

     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The thread is closed.

    The discussion has drifted from the specific question laid out in the first post and is making no progress.

    The OP is invited to start a new thread in the appropriate forum, clearly explaining the question that currently concerns him in the first post of the new thread.

    Cagey, moderator
     
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