1

I'm a native English speaker, but I recently had reason to suspect I had misunderstood 'some degree of'. E.g.,

  • I can repair your car. It needs some degree of work before it will be ready
  • As part of a dialogue difference needs some degree of commonality
  • The circuit is targeted at 5G wideband applications requiring narrow band filtering where the bandwidth also needs some degree of tunability

Does it mean a little, a lot? a non-zero amount? a moderate amount? Am I supposed to be to tell the amount from context? Is it just terrible ambiguous style?! I am mainly talking about written English; I suppose I might be able to tell more if it was spoken.

  • I don't understand the second example. Should I imagine a comma after "dialogue"? Even with that I'm having trouble. // To me, "some degree of" is between non-zero and moderate. Because non-zero could be pretty negligible, and "some degree of" is non-zero and non-negligible. – aparente001 May 13 at 14:27
  • I see what you mean! I added that example by googling ‘some degree of’ - source was The Oxford Handbook of the Self – innisfree May 13 at 14:59
4

When "some degree of" is used, it's generally a case of deliberate ambiguity. The speaker is talking about a value that is not easily quantifiable, either because the property is not measurable or because the variables are sufficiently 'fuzzy' that picking a single value is too difficult.

So in the case of your car example, the writer/speaker knows that they can do the repair but (at the time of the statement) they aren't in a position to know exactly how much work that would involve. If they commit to a particular amount (say 8 hours) and then discover during the work that the repair is more complicated, the car owner might might not be happy to wait/pay for the extra time. Keeping the estimate ambiguous avoids creating an unnecessary expectation.

  • Although the "deliberate ambiguity" not because the speaker is unaware of all the variables, but wants to provide ambiguity to the recipient in an effort to mislead. – Zack May 13 at 14:46

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