Monday, November 26, 2007

The Great Word Debate . . .

Those who know me well know that I like to be right. I read a book once about building your spouses self-esteem and it said that often times people who always have to be right usually never were in their childhood. So I blame my parents. :) Just kidding. Anyway, last week Jesse said something to me that has sparked quite the debate. I seem to be the only one who thinks this way (which probably means I AM wrong, but I can't admit it quite yet.) Here was our conversation:

Jesse: Most Iowans are Hawk fans.
Julie: That's not true!
Jesse: Yes it is.
Julie: Jesse, you can't say MOST Iowans are Hawkeye fans. I agree that MORE Iowans are Hawkeye fans because I'd say the state is split about 60% Hawks, and 40% Cyclones.
Jesse: Well that is still most because most means at least 51% or more.
Julie: MORE is more than 51% not MOST.

And thus began our debate . . .

So as we continued our debate later with these two men, we decided to look up the word MORE and MOST in the dictionary. I was not happy with our discovery. says:

more: Pronunciation[mawr, mohr]
–adjective, compar. of much or many with most as superl. greater quantity, amount, measure, degree, or number: I need more money.
2.additional or further: Do you need more time? More discussion seems pointless.

most: Pronunciation[mohst]
–adjective, superl. of much or many with more as compar. the greatest quantity, amount, measure, degree, or number: to win the most votes. the majority of instances: Most operations are successful.
3.greatest, as in size or extent: the most talent.

So according to the dictionary, Jesse is right about the meaning of the word most. However, in this Hawk/Cyclone context, would MOST people use the word MOST to describe the number of people who like the Hawks? What I'm wondering is what do YOU think of when you hear the word MOST? Before you make a decision, read the following excerpts."

1. "Most women go through pregnancy and childbirth without any complications. "What to Expect When You're Expecting." This could also be read:

Jesse definition: "At least 51% of women go through pregnancy and childbirth without any complications."

Julie definition: "At least 75% of women go through pregnancy and childbirth without any complications."

So about half of all women could possibly have complications? Wow-that is scary statistic.

2. "Most people need help before arrival and during their first six months in a new country."

Jesse definition: "At least 51% of people need help before arrival and during their first six months in a new country."

Julie definition: "At least 75% of of people need help before arrival and during their first six months in a new country."

I would be pretty amazed if about 50% of expats DON'T need any help.

3. "Most women own 19 pairs of shoes-some secretly." let's take a poll on this one. (Vote on the right.) I can believe that at least 75% of women have about 19 pairs of shoes. (At my last shoe count I believe I was at 30.)

So in conclusion, when you see the word MOST written down or spoken in a context similar to the ones above, what do you assume? Do you assume that the person is saying about 75% or more of a group of people (or things) are _________? OR, do you assume the person is saying at least 51% of a group of people are _________?

Please place your votes to the side because perhaps if we get MOST people to agree that the dictionary definition is incorrect, we can take it to Webster's himself (well the current CEO) and request a change. The dictionary isn't set in stone you know. Haven't you read the book "Frindle?"-ok, you probably haven't because it's a great teacher book and students in elementary school often have to read it for class.

To quote my brilliant sister-in-law (who is an editor to boot), "50-75 % = more, but 75-99% = most." I rest my case. Jesse said I should go to Drake University and get my law degree and then take him to court. Silly guy-everyone knows that MOST women would never take things that far . . .


Anonymous said...

Julie, I'm with you. Jesse incorrectly used the word "most". I hope that you take up your child's education, b/c I hate to think how little Renee would turn out if her father put incorrect definitions of words in her head. Next thing you know he'll be teaching her that a cat is really a dog. Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Jesse and Julie Masson said...

P.S Jesse says this post sounds biased . . . :)

Jenny said...

Julie, you are so silly. I think that most means almost all. So, I guess I agree with you, right?!

Lacey said...

I am originally from Iowa (but now a Buckeye in Ohio) and was not a huge Hawkeye or Cyclone fan - sorry! Don't forget about the University of Northern Iowa Panthers, currently ranked #1 in football in NCAA Division I. They have a lot of fans in certain sections of the state too! Yes, I know this is off the topic of more vs. most but had to throw it out there!

Ellie Rex said...

I just wanted to tell you that I love reading your blog. Most, if not all, of the entries are hilarious.

Julie Ann said...

I think you are mostly correct and Jesse is mostly correct.

Anonymous said...

hey julie
i just asked jesse at work if it was him who wrote on our blog. he laughed. he doesn't do things like that. he wanted me to tell you he loves you very much.
have a great weekend. bring your baby in someday!
rachel greene

Chris and Kate Borders said...

I'd have to say that when I hear the word "most" I don't think of about half, I think of "most" as in almost all (like more than, oh I don't know...85 % ish...)

Happy Weekend!!

Anonymous said...

most people are wrong....most people are women... coincidence? I don't think so. :) Love, Papa