we deserve <full shares>

Agito a42

Senior Member
Source: Alien (1979), an American science fiction movie.

Nostromo is a commercial freighter. Two crew members, Parker and Brett, raise the question about wages.
Parker: Uh, before we dock, I think we ought to discuss the bonus situation. Brett and I think we deserve full shares, right baby?
Brett: Right. You see, Mr. Parker and I feel that the bonus situation has never been on an equitable level.

You can read the rest of the dialogue here: Quotes from "Alien"

Could you tell me what "full shares" mean here please? They seem to be asking for some kind of bonus; what do "full shares" have to do with it?

EDIT: Replaced the link.
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  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    There is already a bonus system in place (else the conversation would not make sense), with a total amount divided into "shares". It seems the standard entitlement here is one share; officers probably get more than one share, and quite likely the number of shares increases with rank. People in lower ranks or with less service get part-shares, and Parker and Brett fall into this category.

    Agito a42

    Senior Member
    Thank you, Uncle. It's still not entirely clear to me, though.

    Brett and Parker say this later (they are on the lower decks now).
    Parker: You ever notice how they never come down here? I mean, this is where the work is, right?
    Brett: The same damn reason we get a half share to their one.

    So there's probably no total amount which is divided between several people or into parts.

    Do they misuse the word share?

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, this supports my earlier post. Suppose the total bonus is $400,000 and there are 400 shares, each share would get $1000. These two, with their half shares, only get $500 each.

    If they got whole shares instead, they wouldn't quite get $1000 as there would now be 401 shares. Everyone else would get a little less.

    Bonus shares don't have to be divided like this; if you read about nineteenth century sailors, shares are usually expressed as a fraction of the whole. In Moby Dick, for instance, the narrator Ishmael is eventually offered a 1/300 share (the initial offer was 1/777). In this case, if a person's share is increased then no one else is affected apart from the person (the captain or the owners) who gets the residue, although of course whoever decides on each person's share must make sure they don't add up to more than one. The British Royal Navy had a different system again for dividing prize money, also involving fractions, so the senior warrant officers, for instance, got one eighth of the total to share between them equally; if there were ten of them they each would get 1/80 of the total; if there were fifteen them they'd get 1/120 of the total each.
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