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28 Juni 2009 @ 13:00
Humpty Dumpty is alive and well...  

Statue of Humpty Dumpty by Kimber Fiebiger in Mesa, AZ

...and writing for the Toronto Star under the pseudonym Bob Martin:

There will be many detractors heckling you from the road side as you plod your way to Broadway. Allow yourself the satisfaction of proving them wrong. The best way to do this is by winning a brace of Tony awards. One Tony might be given out of pity, or two because the show got lucky in certain categories, but winning a brace of Tonys is an unequivocal statement of success and should be celebrated as such.

I define a "brace" as more than four.

That's a great deal to make one word mean; to be precise, it's more than twice as much as the word brace means for the rest of us poor slobs. It must be fun to be Bob Martin—imagine reading, in some old novel or other, about two gentlemen fighting a duel with a brace of pistols, and trying to picture how they managed to hold them all. And what a feast a brace of pheasants would make!

Impenetrability! That's what I say.

love, play & inquirytrochee on 28. Juni, 2009 21:17 (UTC)
hah. i wonder if 'brace' is undergoing the slow creep of "couple" -- I have even caught myself saying "give it a couple of whacks" and meaning "some small plural number" -- three would certainly have been acceptable for me.

more likely this is the semantic equivalent of the over-read but under-verbalized people who don't know how to pronounce (e.g.) 'syncope'.
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 28. Juni, 2009 21:34 (UTC)

The thing about couple, though, is that the extended sense of the word includes the traditional sense—"a couple," in the informal sense of the word, means something like 'approximately two' (definitely more than one, but probably not much more than three). Martin's definition of brace, on the other hand, explicitly excludes the canonical meaning of the word; he's actually contrasting "a brace" with "two" here.

I like the analogy with the pronunciation of syncope; it looks to me as if Martin has simply taken brace to be one of those vague collective nouns like clutch or passel—which is, after all, a more likely-sounding meaning than 'pair,' in the same way that syncope looks rather as if it ought to have two syllables rather than three.

ext_58919 on 29. Juni, 2009 06:58 (UTC)
This is definitely the first time I've ever heard of "brace" having a numerical meaning, whether two, four, or eight hundred and nineteen. I hope that you never need to brace yourself for the disappointment of not winning more than four awards.
theridger on 6. Juli, 2009 21:30 (UTC)
Fortunately he defined "brace" for us, since otherwise we'd just be thinking he was crazy. "Two is pity but a brace? Wow!" Odd.