Social Question

Draconess25's avatar

Why does "half a century" sound longer than "50 years"?

Asked by Draconess25 (4448points) April 12th, 2010

And why does “half a foot” sound taller than “6 inches”? Things like that….

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14 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

Because a century is 100 years and a foot is 12 inches. They are bigger quantities than the latter in each of your examples, and that is what you hear.

Coloma's avatar

Well, I much prefer to say I am 50, than I am a half century! Sheesh….lol

Coloma's avatar

Four decades plus nine?

Two quarter centuries even?

WestRiverrat's avatar

For the same reason ‘four score and seven’ sounds better than 87. It is exotic and therefore has more resonance.

—It is also why I can go into my local McD and get 6 chicken nuggets but not half a dozen—

Bernard's avatar

More syllables.
I didn’t ever learn to count them properly. I think it’s 5 syllables versus 3.

thriftymaid's avatar

Because hearing the word century puts the number 100 in your mind.

wundayatta's avatar

But half a century is longer than fifty years. Anyone knows that! :-J

FutureMemory's avatar

My guess is because the reference points used are not equitable. Even though the quantities come first (half of; 50), the brain can’t “do” anything with those quantities until it knows what they refer to. Therefore, since “century” is a longer measurement than “year” is, half century sounds longer than 50 years.

Master's avatar

I think it’s because we perceive 50 years as within the normal range of a human lifespan. And a full 100 years was something unattainable, a far-fetched dream. To live for a century or more is not something most humans are not used to—yet.

breedmitch's avatar

They sound the same to me.

danieljl's avatar

Because the word “century” sounds longer/greater than the word “years”.

tigress3681's avatar

Because a century sounds alot like a millenia (too long for most people to relate to).

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