Scale of one to ten

Scale of one to ten

A scale of one to ten or scale from one to ten is a general and largely vernacular concept used for rating things, people, places, ideas and so on. It is the naturally most popular choice of scale used in ordinary speech, followed by scales of one to five and then one to four. Scales to four or five are more likely to be represented in use by conceptual (or pictorial) 'stars', especially when used to rate books, films, music albums, concerts etc. and especially by the media. Scales from one to five are commonly used to rate hotels, and in this use it would be rare not to refer to them as 'stars'. From this we derive the idiomatic adjective 'five-star', meaning 'first-rate'. It seems that the choices of scales to five and to ten are influenced by the number of fingers on a hand, and the usual use of ten as a numerical base, which in turn is derived from the number of fingers on two hands.

=Significance of 'One'=

The lower end of any scale of this kind is normally represented by 'one', and is usually held to mean 'awful' in some sense of the word. This vaguely implies that 'five' represents neutrality, an average state, or some degree of indifference. Depending on what it is being rated, it could be all of these, it could be only one, or conceivably the scale could be distorted so that 'five' had very little specific meaning. Furthermore, the middle of the scale is usually conceived in this mould, because the scale is most importantly set by its extremities - the concept of the one-to-ten scale being used as might any other word or expression as a tool of the language. That is, the fact that a scale of one to ten is used so much is what makes it desirable to re-use again and again, because it is the very function of language to provide us with signs and symbols that can be used to mean something, without having to explain what that meaning is every time we do so.

It is interesting to note that people do use 'one' as the lower extremity of indeed any scale of this kind, and not zero, which could be easily used in its stead, and would be equally intuitive. However, it is common for people to extend the scale in any case, in the same way that the Burj al-Arab hotel in Dubai is commonly described as the world's only 'seven-star' hotel.

=Significance of 'Ten'=

The upper end of the scale from one to ten is normally represented by 'ten', and is usually held to mean 'excellent', or 'perfection'. This is because 'ten' (out of a possible ten) insinuates that there is no fault at all with what might merit such a mark.

Contextual Usage

The numbers one through ten are colloquially used as nouns, as in the example: "The performance was at best a two," or "What a beauty - she's a ten." The extreme ends of one and ten are used the most in this way. One can also say, for example, "I'd give that salesman a five," meaning a mediocre rating.

External links

* [ a site where users rate and post reviews on a scale of one to ten]

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