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‘The Big Issue exists to offer homeless and vulnerably housed people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income by selling a magazine to the general public. We believe in offering “a hand up, not a hand out” and in enabling individuals to take control of their lives.’

That’s exactly what I want, I said to myself, a hand up. And this time I’ll accept it.

The next bit stated that I had to ‘undergo an induction process and sign up to the code of conduct’. I knew the first bit meant that I’d have to work at a ‘trial pitch’, where my performance would be watched and assessed by the local organisers.

If that went well I’d be allocated a fixed pitch, it went on. I’d also get ten free copies of the magazine to get me started. It made it clear that it was then down to me. ‘Once they have sold these magazines they can purchase further copies, which they buy for £1 and sell for £2, thereby making £1 per copy.’

The text above was extracted from book "A Street Cat Named Bob" by James Bowen.

What would I like to know is what does "bit" exactly mean in the text above?

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  • 'Bit = Part' as stated by Anton below. It's a common BrE synonym. idk if the US uses it in the same way. Aug 11, 2023 at 6:43
  • I'm German and my exposure to English is almost exclusively AmE, and I know the term with that meaning. It is also used in acting as "the smallest unit of action that a rehearsal can be broken down to", which seems an obvious derivation of the general meaning. And of course the use in information theory as "the smallest unit of information" and in computer science and programming as "binary digit" are related as well. Aug 11, 2023 at 12:03
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    @DoneWithThis. Yes, essentially the same usage in US English, and also fairly common.
    – aschepler
    Aug 11, 2023 at 16:32

2 Answers 2

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It refers to a segment of the text that the narrator was reading. Incidentally the text that you quote from the book is a genuine passage from the Big Issue website https://www.bigissue.com/news/housing/help-the-homeless/

A bit of something, meaning a small part or a small quantity of something is common in informal British English (which this is).

The paragraph that you quoted is a bit of the article, i.e.

‘The Big Issue exists to offer homeless and vulnerably housed people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income by selling a magazine to the general public. We believe in offering “a hand up, not a hand out” and in enabling individuals to take control of their lives.’

The next paragraph or section, or web page will be the next bit.

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  • Possibly "fragment". I think it's important to not equate this with a clause/sentence/paragraph etc.: it's just, highly informally, a /fragment/ or possibly /chunk/. Aug 11, 2023 at 21:47
  • And it's not unheard of in American English, either. Aug 11, 2023 at 22:31
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Here bit appears to mean part (of a speech or presentation).

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  • 1
    Or a section of a printed document. Aug 11, 2023 at 7:10

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