«Move the table just a fraction»

Have you heard or seen such a phrase? Do you understand it? What does it mean?

It is incomprehensible (incomprensible), utterly meaningless (totalmente sin sentido). Devoid of sense (desprovisto de sentido).

9/10 is a fraction, as is 1/10, 1/100 and 1/1000. So how far do I move the table? 9/10 of what? 1/10 (one tenth) of a metre, or 1/10 of four metres? Who knows (¿quien sabe?)?

Examine this sentence:

  • Government cars are a fraction of the Canarian government´s spending plans.

Here we have the same lack of meaning. Is the Canarian government´s spending on cars 7/10 of the budget or 1/10?

Presumably (se imagina) that the table must only be moved a little, and that the government spending on cars is low or negligible in the context (insignificante en el contexto). However, it is not the job of the listener to guess what you mean. So why not say “move the table by 1cm”.

It is the same old story (es la historia de siempre). Think before you speak, say what you mean and keep it simple.