Saturday, 6 December 2014

Money for old rope

Pragmatics showed up again on this week's The Apprentice. (Pragmatics shows up in all communication but you know what I mean.)

The contestants were asked to find a one-metre length of old rope. One team found a length that was 1.7m long, and were given a right good telling-off for it. Now, whether that fits the bill depends on what you want it for. Suppose you want to lower something down a one-metre drop. Then, you might ask if someone has a metre-long rope and if they have a 1.7m-long one, they'll say yes. It's enough that the rope is at least one metre long for it to be true that it is one metre long. Lord Sugar is a literal chappie, though, and if he says one metre he means one metre, no more, no less, and they were not permitted to have it.

We saw this literalness again: the teams had to find an anatomical, full-size skeleton. One team found a full-size paper skeleton, which I thought was pretty clever, but it was also disqualified, on the grounds that it made Lord Sugar look stupid I think. I suppose that a completely flat skeleton is not technically anatomically accurate.

*The title of this post is not accurate either: the team got the old rope for free so no money changed hands.


  1. I thought what's-his-name the lawyer was justified in bringing the paper one. If Sugar really were a literalist, he would have specified a REAL, human, skeleton. As it was, the request was vague and Sugar's complaint was petty.

  2. I was in two minds about the skeleton. If the specification that the candidates were given was as vague as it appeared in the programme, then I think that Felipe was justified in bringing in the paper skeleton, and saving a lot of money in the process. Shame on Lord Sugar / the production team for not being precise enough with the brief.

    Re. the rope: I thought it was VERY unfair that they were fined for bringing in too much. To what level of accuracy was it supposed to be measured (and cut)? Would they have been fined for bringing in 0.99m or 1.01m? What about 0.999m or 1.001m?