Archive for Misnegation

Yet more double negative jokes

Following up on "Clarification by misnegation" and "More double negative jokes", here are some tweets I missed:

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Clarification by misnegation: The view from pragmatics (updated and semi-retracted)

In a comment on Mark Liberman's post "Clarification by misnegation", Stephen Hart makes a point that the rest of us have missed (or at least haven't raised), and that deserves wider attention:

I may be missing something here.

Slightly restated, Trump said, originally:
US Intelligence says it is Russia. Putin says it isn't Russia.
I don't see any reason why it would be Russia.
(What would Russia have to gain?)

The new statement seems to be:

US Intelligence says it is Russia. Putin says it isn't Russia.
I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.
(Everybody does it.)

Update: Now that I think about this, I may have misinterpreted the point of this comment, in which case the point it makes was not something others have missed and that deserves wider attention, but rather was something of a restatement of the obvious. My initial impulse was to delete the post, but on reflection I'm leaving it up, as an object lesson in the way that this multiple-negation stuff can make your head spin.

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More double negative jokes

I think this one is the funniest:

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Clarification by misnegation

There were several aspects of President Donald Trump's recent news conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki that sparked strong negative reactions, for example leading former CIA director John Brennan to call Trump's performance "nothing short of treasonous". One of the controversial parts of Trump's remarks was this answer to a question about whether he would denounce the Russians' role in the 2016 election, and warn Putin never to do it again:

All I can do is ask the question
My people came to me
Dan Coats came to me and
some others, they said they think it's Russia —
uh I have uh President Putin
uh he just said it's not Russia.
I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.
I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful
in his denial today […]

So in a 7/17/2018 meeting with congressional Republicans, the president laid out an unusual explanation for the fuss — it was that old devil misnegation, which caused him to seem to say the opposite of what he now says he meant:

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Will an American be indicted next, or not?

Interviewed by Jake Tapper on Friday about the indictment of 12 Russians by Robert Mueller's investigation, Michael Hayden said

I would not be surprised

if this were not the last indictment we see
that- that doesn't mention
an American

So will there be one or more future filings, and will Americans be indicted in all of them, or in some of them, or in none of them? Jake Tapper immediately tries to clarify:

so in other words there will be another indictment, and you think there'll be Americans in- involved

The headline for the interview reads: "EX-CIA Chief: I suspect Americans will be indicted next".

And CNN tweeted it as

I would not be surprised if this were the last indictment we see "that doesn't mention an American," former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden says about Robert Mueller's investigation

Another CNN story put it this way:

Hayden, who was CIA director under President George W. Bush, added that he "would not be surprised" if future indictments were of Americans […]

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Did she smile or not?

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Nor does it mean that he doesn't lack negatives

Or does it? Bret Stephens, "Bush 41, Trump, and American Decline", NYT 4/26/2018:

These contrasts don’t mean that Bush was without blemish: As Meacham notes, there were political misjudgments and calculated concessions to ambition on the long path to power. Nor does it mean that Trump doesn’t lack his own kind of strengths, not the least of which is his loudly declared indifference to elite opinion.

My semantic interpreter dies  of negation poisoning after about the eighth word of that last sentence. But I think there's one too many negatives in it, since a version with one negative removed seem to mean what Mr. Stephens had in mind to communicate:

Nor does it mean that Trump lacks his own kind of strengths

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"Not with(out) at least superficial plausibility"

Undernegation of the week, from a reader down under — Jack Waterford, "AFP bloodhounds still just sniffing about", The Canberra Times 3/31/2018:

The AFP raids were at the behest of the Registered Organisations Commission, which claims to have feared that the AWU might be in the process of destroying documents relevant to a civil investigation. The AWU claims, not with at least superficial plausibility, that the raids were politically motivated and for improper purposes.

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An overnegation that isn't hard to miss

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Freudian misnegation of the year

Leonardo Boiko writes "It's still mid-February, but I feel like this is a strong contender nonetheless".

The source: Joshua Rhett Miller, "Pastor says nothing weird was going on with bound naked man in car", New York Post 2/13/2018.

The key phrase: “I won’t deny that he began to take his clothes off and propositioned me, but I will deny, on a stack of Bibles with God as my witness, that I did nothing".

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"If I don't get into it not wanting to win…"

During today's episode of "Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Gang" on WIP sports talk radio, there was an interview with Doug Pederson, the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

One exchange caught my linguistic (as opposed to sports fan) attention:


Angelo Cataldi: Doug, did you ever think this would happen to you?
Doug Pederson:  I did.
Angelo Cataldi: You did.
Doug Pederson: I did.
I did.
I did, I didn't think it was going to happen in year two
you know, Angelo, listen, i- if- if-
if I don't get into this business
not wanting to win the Super Bowl,
I'm going to go do something else,
you know?

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"I don't think there isn't a darn thing I can do"

RichG sent in a link to Matt Pierce and David Montero, "Warrants in Las Vegas mass shooting reveal name of additional 'person of interest", LA Times 1/30/2018 [emphasis added]:

Authorities were looking into an additional "person of interest" following the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds of others, according to search warrants unsealed by a Nevada judge Tuesday.

Though Stephen Paddock has been identified as the lone gunman in the Oct. 1 massacre, and authorities had been looking at his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, the court mistakenly failed to redact another name from the warrants: Douglas Haig.

That is the name of a Mesa, Ariz., ammunition dealer who runs a website called Specialized Military Ammunition, which touts itself as "your source for premium, MILSPEC, tracer and incendiary ammunition in popular military calibers," including ammunition that "ignites diesel and kerosene." (Officials have said that Paddock shot at aerial fuel tanks during the attack, although they did not ignite.) […]

The Las Vegas Review-Journal was the only publication to receive the mistaken document, which identified Haig as a "person of interest." It's the first public acknowledgment by law enforcement that a third person had been investigated in relation to the crime.

District Court Judge Elissa Cadish apologized for the error and issued a gag order on any publication of the original document that included the name.

"I ordered them redacted and thought they were redacted not only to protect the investigation, but because of concerns about possible danger to this individual," Cadish said. "Unfortunately, I think the reality is now that it's up online and I don't think there isn't a darn thing I can do to take it off."

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Learning not to avoid

Joanna Klein, "Swatting at Mosquitoes May Help You Avoid Bites, Even if you Miss", NYT 1/25/2018:

If you keep swatting at a mosquito, will it leave you alone?

Some scientists think so. But it depends.

Some blood meals are worth a mosquito risking its life. But if there’s a more attractive or accepting alternative to feed from, a mosquito may move on to that someone or something instead. 

An interesting story. But this is Language Log, not Insect Learning Log, so let's focus on the prominently-displayed picture caption, which reads:

A new study suggests that mosquitoes might learn not to avoid people who swat at them, by recognizing their smell.

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