–Ich hätte gerne ein Paar Brötchen
That was (modulo trivialities) a conversation that surprised me. Of course –assuming the grammatical correctness of the sentences–, the baker doesn't see that I was meaning Paar and not paar, but I'm bemused by the fact that, in absence of more data, he didn't think that I was actually asking for precisely two items.
It is therefore credible, referring to this question, that not only paar means rather "a few", but that in the native speaker’s mind the distance between this word and "two items" is huge.
- Is this related to a orthography reform? Perhaps Paar→paar (I guess no). If not, why/when did this change take place? (in case the phenomenon has been studied)
- Could somebody warn non-native speakers from using certain words or expressions, which have lost its original meaning as well? I ask in the sense of this answer Ungefähr→ungefähr.
Edit: My argument behind the first question has been refuted in the answers bellow. I thought paar came from Paar, which I thought meant originally exactly two items. It comes from the Latin par (paris), which mean two equal. The argument only motivates the second question, which therefore remains valid.