Saturday, September 8, 2012

'sev·er·al

A while back I wrote an abbreviated account of that time in her life when BBBH was the host of a television program.  In the course of the story, I stated that she had hosted "several" episodes.  At the time, she took me to task, averring that she had done more than several programs. 

I retorted that she had, indeed, aired "several" programs.  Her reply was that there were a lot more than three episodes.  I said, Yes, there were several.  No, she replied, Several means "three."  Now we are into it.  I insisted that if "several" means "three" then one of the words is a redundancy and unnecessary.  So let us count "one, two, several, four..."

But she was adamant that I had stated that she hosted three programs, and she was a bit miffed because people might think she had done fewer than she actually did.  I decided to drop the matter for very good reason, as you can clearly see.

Nor would I have revisited this, except that, all these weeks later, she brought it up again.  Several is still three.

I may or may not be a stubborn man, but I am not so easily swayed.

Witnesses:  What say you?

Yes, I am a stubborn man. I resorted to Merriam-Webster.
"several-- more than two but fewer than many"
For whatever that is worth.

1       2      ?     4...



8 comments:

Shelly said...

I've always thought of several as three or four...

Jim said...

We all have our definitions for things. For me, "a couple" is two, "a few" is three, "several" is fourish to tennish, and "many" is double digits.

But we do have to learn our spouses' definitions for things. When I was married, we used to get our calendars all screwed up because to me "next Thursday" was always whatever Thursday came next, and to her, "next Thursday" was the Thursday in the next week, even if you had to suffer a Thursday this week first.

Vee said...

Both of my hard cover sources (I still have books that I hold in my hands) define "several" as "consisting of a number more than two, but not very many." Maybe you should have stated that she hosted a series of TV shows. Alas, too late! The dispute is already in progress.

Secondary Roads said...

Like Sgt. Schultz, "I know nothing."

Grace said...

I guess several could be 3 but then in my world "a coupla" could be 2 or 3 and several could be 3 or 4...the logic here is that when you don't quite know the exact number but it's more than 1 it's 'a coupla' and if it's more than a coupla then it could be several but anything more than several is 'a bunch'...

vanilla said...

Shelly, or possibly five or six?

Jim, I think your definition and mine coincide. Also, “next Thursday” is to me as it is to you, the next one that comes up. Not that my validation does you any good at this point.

Vee, shoulda, coulda, didn’t.

Chuck, if you choose to weasel out.

Grace, to me a coupla is two. More than several can be a bunch, but the line between the two is quite blurred. The interesting thing about this discussion is that it illustrates the pitfalls in communication, for I know what I am talking about, while the auditor, or reader, thinks she knows, but is applying a different set of definitions.

Thanks everyone for playing along. More reflection and recall suggests that the “several” to which I referred was in truth seven, or maybe eight. You know, several.

Elvin Powers said...

This reminds me of the Afghanistan
War. It's a war that can't be won.

vanilla said...

Elvin, and like that one, one that shouldn't have been fought.