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Poll #791631… - Sally's Journal
August 12th, 2006
10:25 pm

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What's greater?

A lot
85(88.5%)
Quite a lot
11(11.5%)

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:zebbiejohnson
Date:August 12th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC)
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I am a cheap free person on lj so cant do polls, but I think a lot is clearly greater - in quite a lot the focus is on the limitation, not the mass.
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From:atreic
Date:August 12th, 2006 10:29 pm (UTC)
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You can fill in polls even if you are a free person - it's just that you can't make polls.
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From:mtbc100
Date:August 13th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
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Hmmm. Dictionaries seem to have both versions: basically "rather" and "completely". How confusing.
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From:piqueen
Date:August 13th, 2006 09:30 pm (UTC)
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Your view is American/Canadian where are you from?
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From:piqueen
Date:August 14th, 2006 12:47 pm (UTC)
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Ah that explains it!
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From:ewx
Date:August 12th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Fewer!
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From:ewx
Date:August 12th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
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Oh, and impossible to tell without context, or at least tone of voice; compare "he did quite well" and "he did quite well". So everyone who answered either option is wrong l-)
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From:vyvyan
Date:August 13th, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
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I don't really get this example - whatever the tone of voice, I think I would understand "quite well" as "fairly well, reasonably well, less well than well" to some degree. Similarly with "quite a lot". OTOH I think there are adjectives and adverbs which can be modified by "quite" in two opposed ways - it either means "completely" or "partially". For instance, "quite charming(ly)" could be ambiguous out of context, meaning either "completely charming" (highest pitch on "quite", then a gradual fall over "charming" for me) or "fairly charming" (lower pitch on "quite" here, followed by dip and rise over "charming"). Maybe this was what you meant too? But it doesn't work for all words that "quite" might modify, for me anyway.
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From:ewx
Date:August 15th, 2006 10:03 am (UTC)
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Hmm, yes, the more positive sound definitely has '(low pitch) quite (higher pitch) well' - there is a feeling of being pleased, and perhaps surprised, to it. Whereas the more negative sound has (I think) about the same pitch but the 'quite' is extended in time; it feels conditional, 'could have done better', maybe a little disappointed though not seriously upset or dissatisfied.
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From:vyvyan
Date:August 15th, 2006 01:18 pm (UTC)
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I agree that the first one would imply doing better than expected (and certainly better than the second one) - but I wouldn't see it as being better than just "well". (It also doesn't have the "completely" meaning I was talking about earlier, which is probably a separate issue.) Similarly, while "quite a lot" could cover a range of quantities, some unexpectedly large, I don't think I'd use it (or understand it generally) to mean more than "a lot". There would be a sort of scale (for me) including items like:
"quite a lot" (not very much)
"quite a lot!" (rising pitch, surprise implied)
"a lot"
"a lot!" (similar rising pitch)
"really a lot"
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From:mair_aw
Date:August 12th, 2006 10:49 pm (UTC)
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but "quiiiiiiiiiiite a lot" or quite a lot is (are?) greater than a lot.
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:August 13th, 2006 06:01 am (UTC)
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"quite a lot" sounds smaller to me, though "rather a lot" would be bigger.
From:wryelle
Date:August 13th, 2006 07:36 am (UTC)
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ewx is right, and king_laugh is sometimes right. "Quite" is a context dependant word.
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From:sashajwolf
Date:August 13th, 2006 08:34 am (UTC)
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There's also a transatlantic difference here - in the US, "quite" is often used as an intensifier rather than a limitation. This has been known to cause miscommunications between one of my partners and the rest of our social group.
From:mtbc100
Date:August 13th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
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Ahhhh, thanks, that explains a lot.
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From:pavanne
Date:August 13th, 2006 09:39 am (UTC)
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Everything in moderation.
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From:purplepiano
Date:August 13th, 2006 10:13 am (UTC)
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Tea and cakes are quite nice.
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From:rochvelleth
Date:August 13th, 2006 12:59 pm (UTC)
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I suppose it may depend a little on the speaker, because some people do use 'quite' as more of an intensifier. It may also depend on the phrase... I mean, if you said 'That's quite brilliant!', wouldn't that sound more brilliant than 'That's brilliant!'? Or maybe it wouldn't. Maybe that does just depend on who's speaking... *shrug*

Interestingly, the comparative in Latin can be translated as 'quite' (or 'rather'), which makes you wonder exactly what use of 'quite' you're employing when you're translating. In Latin the general consensus is that it is an intensifier though.
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From:teleute
Date:August 15th, 2006 01:16 am (UTC)
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'Quite' is far too ambiguous. If I want a nice clear intensifier 'A hell of' seems to work well :-)

(Yes America is screwing with my concept of language, no it hasn't made me any more or less uncouth, just louder about it)
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From:mostlyacat
Date:August 15th, 2006 12:16 pm (UTC)
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"Quite a lot" can be more than "a lot". With "quite a lot" the speaker is perhaps implying that they have a larger frame of reference and that they've seen this sort of thing several times before so it sounds more impressive than "a lot" which in turn sounds vague, immature and badly informed. Perhaps by deliberately reducing the "a lot" with "quite" it means more.
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