Posted by R. Berg on May 16, 2001
In Reply to: Not exactly my turf, but... posted by Bob on May 16, 2001
: : ... doesn't "perhaps" give you more a sense of accidentality, fatalism, while "maybe" of actual, concrete possibility?
: : Casual, vs. causal -- if you really want to stretch the envelope?
: Well, no, I don't buy it. It's not so much a difference of meanig as a difference that characterizes the speaker: "perhaps" uttered by a careful, older, more pedantic, almost-stuffy speaker (um, that would be me) versus "maybe" uttered by normal people. The degree of possibility is still about 70-30.
"Perhaps" might have an air of accident, etc., because of its origin: etymologically, "by chance" (hap = fortune, chance). Today, however, "maybe" and "perhaps" are related in the same way as "very" and "extremely."