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Speaking about how the process of working on new music compares to his approach to social media, he said: “I’ve thought about every single word on this album [‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’] for two years; I’d think about a tweet for 20 seconds.
“My album’s gonna go out to, what, 10 million people, but a tweet could go out to a billion. The maths doesn’t work out. I’ll die on the hill of my records, but I won’t die on the hill of my tweets. It’s better to say good things less than to say average things more.”

Hi. I need some native speakers help. Does less than here mean certainly not? Does the sentence mean It’s better to say good things and It’s certainly not better to say average things more?

2 Answers 2

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You are splitting the sentence in the wrong place

It’s better to say

good things less

than to say

average things more

It is better to speak less and say good things than to speak a lot and only say average things.

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  • Oh Thanks for the explanation. I didn’t notice I got the part wrong. It makes sense now.
    – whitewater
    Aug 10 at 13:29
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It is an example of ellipsis. The word “often” has been omitted after both “less” and “often.” The word “often” is seldom omitted and so is somewhat weird, but it works in context.

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  • I see. I think part of the reason that it confused me to get this sentence is probably the omission of often. Thanks for the explanation.
    – whitewater
    Aug 10 at 13:57
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    Particularly in spoken English, such omissions are common. In fact, my wife sometimes omits whole paragraphs. Aug 10 at 16:16
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    You could, surely, equally understand 'less' and 'more' to refer to the overall or total amount of speech? Better to say good things less (in quantity) than average things more (in quantity). Aug 11 at 8:06
  • @MichaelHarvey And that is the trouble with ellipsis. It can lead to uncertainty of meaning. But in this case, whether what was intended was frequency or quantity probably comes to the same thing. I do not see that you and I differ in the fundamental meaning of the locution. Aug 11 at 20:29

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