“Only a fraction“. It’s a phrase that is in very common use. What does it mean?
A quarter, an eighth, fifteen sixteenths or maybe seven sevenths? Or is it even vulgar, like twelve tenths?
After a long investigation, taking only a fraction of the time, and using only a fraction of the resources that a prestigious university would use, I have found the answer.
Actually there are two meanings
- The writer or speaker does not have a clue about the real figure, and can’t be bothered to find out.
- The writer or speaker does not want you to know the real figure.
I can now state categorically, and without fear of contradiction that:
- Only a fraction of our MPs are not imbeciles.
- Only a fraction of our security services are not in the pay of the Kremlin
- Only a fraction of our journalists are not employed directly or indirectly by Donald Trump.
- Only a fraction of our energy payments do not go straight into the personal bank accounts of the directors and shareholders of Shellenergy.
It’s a handy phrase, and one that can be used, if you are bothered, (only a fraction are actually bothered) without actually telling lies.