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#32423 06/15/01 02:19 PM
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Brandon Offline OP
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On NPR this morning, I again heard this phrase: Fewer employees are working fewer hours...

This almost always makes my mind do a doubletake. Do they mean the average hours for all employees are dropping (could indicate less productivity), or that a decreasing number of employees are working part time (could indicate more productivity)?

Any ideas (not on this sentence per se, but on the use of fewer...fewer)?

Brandon


#32424 06/15/01 02:59 PM
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I take it to mean that they have reduced two things, the number of employees, and the number of hours per employee, thus drastically reducing the number of man(!)-hours. That sort of thing.


#32425 06/15/01 03:04 PM
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It seems to me that the phrase means that the number of employees working less that 40 hours per week has decreased.


#32426 06/15/01 03:07 PM
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I saw it in a more negative light - previously they had more full-time employees - now they are expecting fewer employees to do all the same work, with the additional challenge of the remaining employees only working fewer hours each. (Cynicism brought on by first-hand experience.) Without the rest of the sentence, it's hard to tell.


#32427 06/15/01 03:09 PM
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To say it is an inelegant construction...

But if we turn it on its head and say "More people are working more hours", I suspect we would all understand the same thing - a greater number are working overtime.

As soon as such a construction makes you stop and think, it becomes self defeating as a tool of communication, doesn't it?


#32428 06/15/01 03:11 PM
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The meaning of the commentary was clear. They are reducing the workforce and cutting the work force's hours. But I'm troubled by the usage. There seems to be a high level of potential ambiguity.

Maybe written by an aspiring political speech-writer??

Brandon


#32429 06/15/01 03:14 PM
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…such a construction makes you stop and think

And we wouldn't want that, would we.


#32430 06/15/01 03:40 PM
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About the form, in news reports - no! the substance: yes!


#32431 06/15/01 04:12 PM
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Sorry, mav. Couldn't resist (I'm weak; I deserve to be punished).


#32432 06/15/01 04:19 PM
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Are you hearing this, E?




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