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On the observing of the Observer of the observers - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
On the observing of the Observer of the observers
"Health groups said they were concerned the government could be using the consultation exercise to placate rebel MPs who oppose its plan to exclude pubs that don't serve food from a ban on smoking in public places." (Observer, 4/12/05, "Age limit for cigarettes may rise to 18")
Okay, maybe this is just me, but it took me about six reads of all those double negatives to work out who the hell wasn't refraining from not doing what to everybody but whom. Of which.

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ewx From: ewx Date: December 6th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read that double negatives used to be used (presumably in less confusing combinations...) to reinforce rather than to cancel one another, long ago. (And still occasionally very informaly now, I suppose.) I can't help feeling that it would be an improvement.
offensive_mango From: offensive_mango Date: December 6th, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
to reinforce rather than to cancel one another

Never--no, never!


;)
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: December 6th, 2005 01:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Three Cheers!

What never?
Hardly ever...
mpinna From: mpinna Date: December 6th, 2005 01:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Certainly that's the case in Italian. 'Non ho niente' translating word-for-word to 'I don't have nothing' but having an actual meaning of 'I don't have anything'. Confused the hell out of me when I was a child because nobody thought to point out that this usage was correct despite its differences from what is right in English.
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: December 6th, 2005 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
My dad took about 20 years to be convinced that it is bad English because of this, much to my mum's frustration. As he ages he's slipping back into using it, as well as "opening and closing" light switches. ;-)
classytart From: classytart Date: December 6th, 2005 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's nothing wrong with opening and closing switches. From an engineering point of view that's what you're doing.
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: December 6th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, and it's a literal translation of the Italian, too. But it's not conventional English to say 'open the light please' when you mean 'switch it on'. :)
martling From: martling Date: December 6th, 2005 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Especially since you'd be needing to close the switch to do that. :-)
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: December 6th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
But you'd be opening the aperture in a lantern. :)
classytart From: classytart Date: December 6th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
True "Open the light" is decidedly odd. But "open the light switch" seems fine.
j4 From: j4 Date: December 6th, 2005 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Fine" in what sense? I mean, I could probably infer what it meant from context; but it'd certainly make me double-take if I heard somebody say it, & I'd probably assume that English wasn't their native language.
classytart From: classytart Date: December 6th, 2005 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Fine" as in grammatical, and logical (technically correct), if non-standard, English.

Written down I'd assume it was dialect, though spoken I would probably assume they'd mentally switched what you do with curtains or a window with what you do to an electric light.
j4 From: j4 Date: December 6th, 2005 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's a well-formed English sentence (like "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously"), but I'm not sure what you mean by "technically correct". I don't really want to get into the whole Standard English debate, or philosophical questions of what is "correct" and what is not, but a) I doubt that you'll find an attestation of that particular usage in any English dictionary, and b) I suspect a lot of readers/listeners wouldn't immediately know what it meant without context. (This is not a moral judgement on that turn of phrase or on people who may use it.)
classytart From: classytart Date: December 6th, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I mean technically as in "the technology is".
j4 From: j4 Date: December 6th, 2005 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, right. You seemed to be arguing that it was perfectly fine and normal English usage, which was somewhat confusing.
classytart From: classytart Date: December 8th, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no. It's clearly non-standard, I just rather like it. And apart from being non-standard I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

Well, apart form language existing to communicate, and some not understanding it. But that's true of some words I use fairly often, so I only half want to think about that angle. :)
(Deleted comment)
From: rgl Date: December 6th, 2005 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, the thing is, a double negative is only the same as a positive if you're dealing with a binary situation (something that is good or bad), whereas actually many situations are ternary (good, neutral, bad), so that not unreasonable might mean something different from reasonable, just like not terrible doesn't necessarily mean good.
From: rgl Date: December 6th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gah! I've re-read your post and realised I was responding to a point that existed in my head rather than the one you were making. Damn.
ewx From: ewx Date: December 6th, 2005 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
We could agree to pretend I made it, whatever it was, if you like.
From: rgl Date: December 6th, 2005 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I'll just retreat into a world of my own imagining - that usually seems to work. Either that or I could go and make some coffee.
classytart From: classytart Date: December 6th, 2005 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
It made sense to me. You're defending the double-negative as a mid-point, which we couldn't express if we used them to enforce the meaning.
imc From: imc Date: December 6th, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not just you.
martling From: martling Date: December 6th, 2005 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I give up. I can't actually parse that at all. I would need to get a pen and paper to work out the meaning.
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