One in five youngesters gets anything

Hello, there

Would you please, help me understand the following sentence:

According to medical experts, one in five youngesters gets anything between two and five hours' sleep at night less than their parents did at their age. 

I'll attach the whole text. The point is that I can't understand what "anything" means here?

Each word you write is appreciated. 

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Original Post

Hussein,

I agree with Gustavo's interpretation, although I find the original passage poorly written.  I would prefer "gets somewhere between" instead of "gets anything between".  Your misspelling of "youngsters" is a slight distraction, but not nearly so much as what the authors seem to want to mean by the word.  (Also not nearly as much as the huge difference in meaning between their "between two and five hours' sleep a night" and your "between two and five hours' sleep at night".)  They appear to equate the words "teenager" and "youngster".  By the time I was seventeen I was self-supporting and had little communication with my parents.  I was attending Kent State University and typically got ten hours of sleep a week.  Is this what we call a "youngster"?  When I was living at my parents' house, I was required to go to bed at nine o'clock PM (that was in high school; before that it was eight o'clock).  Lights out.  If I was caught reading a book, I was punished.  I would stare at the ceiling in the dark, hour after hour, night after night, and finally start to drift off to sleep around seven o'clock AM, just in time for my alarm clock to go off.  The only actual sleep I ever got during my grade school years was in my classes.

I really can't begin to describe how poorly written your source information is.  They say that "medical experts" say that one in five "youngsters" get two to five fewer hours of sleep per night than their parents did at their age.  Or, at least, that's what they would have said if they had the literacy that I would expect of a twelve-year-old.  How much sleep do the rest of them get?  Seven hours less?  Ten hours more?  What is the median, or the mean?  How many medical experts are we talking about, and what is the sample size of the youngsters?  These statistics are absolutely meaningless as presented.  In fact, they're much worse than meaningless.  They are dangerous.  They are deliberately vague in such a way that they can be manipulated to support any subversive purpose imaginable.

When I was younger, there was a lot of advertising that spoke of the opinions of "four out of five doctors surveyed".  So what?  999 out a thousand people in authority during Galileo's lifetime would have had him silenced permanently for suggesting that it was possible for the Earth to move.  In contrast, "four out of five doctors" seems to be a rather insignificant majority.  In particular, I remember a series of television commercials saying that "four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients that chew gum".  In the first place, I find chewing gum disgusting and would like to see it outlawed.  In the second place, one of the most popular brands of sugarless gum at the time was Trident, which is derived from a Latin phrase meaning "three teeth".  I am not making this up.

But again, we have some unknown number of "medical experts" spouting their dubious opinions, and I'm not seeing any source information to identify these experts, nor their credentials, what they actually said, how they gathered their statistics, etc.  At least in the days of "four out of five doctors surveyed", we could at least imagine a Doctor I, a Doctor II, a Doctor III, and a Doctor IV.  But then we have this rather significant 20% that disagrees.  Even as a child, I always wondered, what does the fifth doctor think, and why?  Wouldn't medicine, and, in fact, all other fields of technology, science, linguistics, and anything else that depends on progressive thought have stagnated centuries ago if it weren't for maverick thinkers of every generation daring to challenge the majority views of their day?

But, of course, that's just one man's opinion.  I could be wrong.

Yours truly,

DocV

This blog seems to be the source of the text. Edita Stankevičienė can write in English but is certainly not a native speaker.

The sentence in question appears at the end of the first paragraph: According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anything between two and five hours' sleep a night less than their parents did at their age.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

The sentence in question appears at the end of the first paragraph: According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anything between two and five hours' sleep a night less than their parents did at their age.

For me, "less" would work much, much better before "sleep."  I would also change "anything" to "anywhere" (similar to DocV's "somewhere") and "did" to "got." I don't think we need to worry about the two instances of singular "their."

  • According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anywhere between two and five hours' less sleep a night than their parents got at their age.

Thanks for finding this and sharing it, Gustavo.  I see now that the "whole text" that Mr Hassan proposed to attach is but a brief excerpt from a rather lengthy opinion piece.  After reading Miss Stankevičienė's words in the context of this much larger article, I am humbled.  I owe the author an apology for my harsh comments about her literacy and, to a lesser extent, my perception of her irresponsibility in citing unsourced opinions from unnamed "experts".

The short passage that Mr Hassan shared in his initial post triggered an angry response in me regarding the thousands of wasted hours, the torture of spending ten hours a day (or, more specifically, a night) for all those years fully awake in isolation and sensory deprivation, and my reduced capacity for learning once I got to school, not to mention the insomnia issues that plague me to this day.  Some people that know me consider me a genius.  I can only imagine what I might have been.

Miss Stankevičienė actually starts to make sense when she says that teenagers in studies only begin to produce melatonin at about 1 o'clock am.  If I had been allowed to read or indulge in some creative activity (we didn't have video games back then, nor personal computers, cell phones, or cable TV) until my body and brain told me they were ready for sleep, I could have had a good five or six hours of productive sleep every night, instead of zero hours of any sleep at all.  Whoever said that teenagers need nine or ten hours of sleep every night is a damned idiot.

The truth is that many parents, then as now, can't be bothered to take the time to understand what is best for their children.  It a shame that such people are allowed to be parents in the first place.

But I forget: This is a grammar forum.

David, I am in complete agreement with your suggestions.  They make the sentence much more readable.  The only change that I might suggest for your version is that I would be more comfortable with "somewhere between" or "anywhere from", rather than "anywhere between".  But that's a personal preference.  I'm not saying you're wrong.  Actually, with your rephrasing, I might also be tempted to lose the apostrophe in "hours' less sleep".

DocV

Doc V posted:
David, I am in complete agreement with your suggestions.  They make the sentence much more readable.  The only change that I might suggest for your version is that I would be more comfortable with "somewhere between" or "anywhere from", rather than "anywhere between".  But that's a personal preference.  I'm not saying you're wrong.  Actually, with your rephrasing, I might also be tempted to lose the apostrophe in "hours' less sleep".

Thanks, DocV. It is immaterial to me whether we recommend  "anywhere between . . . and . . .", "anywhere from . . . to . . .", or "somewhere between . . . and . . .". All are OK.

You're absolutely right that I should have deleted the apostrophe after "hours" in my revision. Sorry about that, Hussein. Let me write that one more time, this time without the apostrophe.

  • According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anywhere between two and five hours less sleep a night than their parents got at their age.

 

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

This blog seems to be the source of the text. Edita Stankevičienė can write in English but is certainly not a native speaker.

The sentence in question appears at the end of the first paragraph: According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anything between two and five hours' sleep a night less than their parents did at their age.

Thanks, Gustavo for sharing the source of the text. I just would like to know how you got it. I have "google" as the search engine, and I used "Let sleeping teenagers lie", but I couldn't find the source. I'm asking about the way I can search for other texts. 

David, Moderator posted:
  • According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anywhere between two and five hours less sleep a night than their parents got at their age.

What I understood is:

According to medical experts, almost 20% of the youngsters sleep less than their parents did at their age by (between two and five hours sleep a night).

Did I get it right? I apologize, David for bothering you with such questions. Forgive me. 

Hussein Hassan posted:
David, Moderator posted:
  • According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anywhere between two and five hours less sleep a night than their parents got at their age.

What I understood is:

According to medical experts, almost 20% of the youngsters sleep less than their parents did at their age by (between two and five hours sleep a night).

Did I get it right?

Almost, Hussein. Twenty percent is an accurate equivalent of "one in five." The problem with your interpretation is that the sentence (neither the original nor my revision of it) is not saying these youngsters get (somewhere/anywhere) between two and five hours' sleep (hours of sleep) a night. Rather, it is saying that they get between two and five hours less sleep a night THAN THEIR PARENTS GOT. Thus, IF their parents got eight hours of sleep a night, these youngsters get anywhere from three hours of sleep a night to six hours of sleep at night, three hours of sleep being five hours less than eight (8 - 5 = 3), and six hours of sleep being two hours less than eight (8 - 2 = 6). Is it starting to make sense now? We seem to be trending towards mathematical discourse right now on GE.

Several days ago, I wrote:

The only actual sleep I ever got during my grade school years was in my classes.

Yesterday, Hussein Hassan responded:

I hope none of my students see/s these words by such a great one like you, DocV.

First of all, Mr Hassan, you flatter me.  I am not a "great one".  I am an ordinary man, and like all of us, there are a few things that I am good at.  My knowledge of English grammar happens to be one of those things.  It is a gift from The One, not anything that I deserve praise for, and if I can help anyone by sharing my knowledge, that is my duty.

Second, I hope that none of Mr Hassan's students, or any other students, for that matter, mistake my comments as advocating sleeping through classes.  I was in survival mode.  If anything, you may interpret my statement as a critique of the public school system as it exists in certain parts of the United States.  Where I grew up, schools existed to keep children in one place while their parents went to work.  They were not meant to teach us anything of value.  What I learned as a child, I learned on my own, although it helped that I had three older sisters and some older friends.

To add to David's comment (and in fact to expand on an earlier comment of my own), Miss Stankevičienė's blog is a classic misuse of statistics.  Even if twenty percent of "youngsters" (whatever that means) get two to five hours less sleep per day than their parents did at the same age, is that a crisis?  The other eighty percent might be taking quaaludes and sleeping twenty hours a day!  Thirty years from now, we might be reading a similar report that says "The average teenager today is sleeping less than half as much as his or her parents did, and let us thank God for that!".

And by the way, if I had been one of the statistics in this so-called study, would my hours of sleep have been calculated by when my parents sent me to bed, or by when I actually fell asleep?  And how do they know how many hours my parents got?

DocV

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