# What does "a bit" mean in this context?

In a Twitter discussion on Neuralink's challenge to create a lossless compression algorithm, someone posted a controversial post claiming their algorithm not only "converts back losslessly" but also "has noise removed", which statements seem mutually contradictory, as lossless conversion should retain all the noise.

I asked "How certain are you that you distinguish data from noise 100% correctly?"

To which the poster answered "experience" (I suspect they misread my question as "How do you distinguish...")

Someone then commented "So this is a bit, right?"

What does that comment mean? What is "a bit" in this context?

• @MichaelHarvey Do you consider all meaning-in-context questions invalid or just ones where the context is Twitter?
– SF.
Commented May 28 at 8:39
• @MichaelHarvey So how does this one differ? Apparently at the time of screenshot at least 248 people understood and agreed with the "it's a bit" statement, which I doubt would happen if it was intelligible to anyone. I'm familiar with a quite of meanings of 'a bit', the closest I can imagine is 'a comedy sketch', but I'm really unsure here, not being a native speaker. This is the gist of most of meaning-in-context questions, explain the specific meaning a word that has a multitude of context-dependent meanings. What is wrong with this one as opposed to the rest?
– SF.
Commented May 28 at 8:44
• @MichaelHarvey bit: "chiefly US : a brief comic performance or joke". To me it is clearly a sarcastic "you're joking, right?" Commented May 28 at 9:02
• You must have been continuing the send-up to ask "How certain are you that you distinguish data from noise 100% correctly?" Commented May 28 at 9:18
• Note that the last reply is playing on a dual use of "bit" in its computing sense; they're saying that the "bit" (data/joke) was lost during compression. Commented May 28 at 10:27

bit:

(2b) chiefly US : a brief comic performance or joke

To me it's not at all related to the adverb a bit. The intended meaning is a (most likely sarcastic) "So this is a joke, right?" - the speaker is finding the answer so nonsensical that it must be a joke.

• (That last reply - "It was earlier..." - might be a wordplay on bit as a unit of information vs bit as a joke. But it's still unrelated to the a bit adverb) Commented May 28 at 9:55

Just as in your language, speech (and the "written speech" you get in very casual forums like twitter) depends a lot on shared understanding of a common situation. In conversations people do things like "finish each other's sentences".

The speaker has ommited the adjective that completes the sentence.

This is obviously incomprehensible. Since the adjective gives the meaning. But you are in a shared situation so he is asking you to internally finish the thought. It communicates ideas like "We have the same idea here, and you know what I mean".

The function here is social, as much as it is communicative. The speaker bonds with the other people in the conversation by indicating that he shares their opinion to the extent that he allows them participate in his sentence structuring.

There might also be a meta-joke. Since you are talking about removing noise and an algorithm that might remove data thinking it's noise... Perhaps the joke is that the adjective has been lost by the application of an algorithm. This pokes fun at the OP's claim to compress losslessly and remove noise.

So what as an English learner? When reading Twitter don't try to analyse too much. Try to recognise when something is a real attempt at communication (a question to answer or a statement to respond to) and when it is just social fun. Don't expect to get all the wordplay and jokes yet.

• It's an interesting conjecture, but I think you're overanalysing and there's a much simpler explanation that does not rely on improper English or complicated and unidiomatic wordplay. Commented May 28 at 9:53