Most

We’re having a dispute about the commonly understood meaning of the word “most.” Don’t look it up in a dictionary; just go by your own intuitive definition. Here’s a sample situation: You’re in a gathering of 12 people, with the following preferences as their first choice for president. The question is whether you think it would be linguistically and mathematically acceptable to say “most of the people in this group support Donald Trump as their first choice” for each of the following sets of preferences:

  1. 10 for Trump, 2 for Hillary.
  2. 12 for Trump.
  3. 7 for Trump, 3 for Bernie, 2 for Hillary.
  4. 6 for Trump, 3 for Rubio, 2 for Bernie, 1 for Hillary.
  5. 5 for Trump, 3 for Rubio, 2 for Bernie, 2 for Hillary.
  6. 4 for Trump, 4 for Rubio, 2 for Bernie, 2 for Hillary.

Substitute whatever names you wish. The issue, of course, is not the particular candidates but rather the usage of the word “most.” What’s the threshold for that word?



Categories: Linguistics, Math