Archive for Misnegation

Their inability not to comprehend that they are incapable

Jonathan Bouquet, "May I have a word… about toolkits, real and metaphorical", The Observer 10/14/2018 [emphasis added]:

No one, least of all my family and close friends, would deny that I am somewhat hidebound, stuck up to my nethers in mud. I mean, don’t get me started on the subject of mobile phones and the inability of so many of their owners not to comprehend that they are incapable of walking and using these devices at the same time.

Thus, when I see the word toolkit, it conjures up images of the contents of a red cantilevered box, containing hammers, various screwdrivers, bradawl, spanners (again various), sundry nails, screws and broken electric saw blades (no, I don’t know why either), and assorted oddly shaped pieces of plastic that probably came from a long-discarded Black & Decker Workmate.

Alas, no longer. A recent report, on parents who won’t let their sons wear a skirt to school possibly being referred to social services, talked of “Brighton and Hove city council’s ‘trans inclusion schools toolkit’”.

Now, without wishing to get involved in the tangled issue of gender identity, I would just like to stick my crusty old arm over the parapet and stand up for toolkit’s proper meaning. Brighton and Hove council could just as easily have used the word advice and it would have had exactly the same meaning.

Or, to put it another way, ain't no toolkit without no hammers.

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For, against, whatever…

A tweet for the misnegation archive:

This one has the unusual property of being purely lexical, with no explicit negations at all.

[h/t Donald Clarke]

 

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Barring no misnegations

Seung Min Kim, John Wagner, and Josh Dawsey, "Kavanaugh vote: Senate Republican leaders agree to new FBI background investigation of Kavanaugh", WaPo 9/28/2018 [emphasis added]:

President Trump on Friday ordered the FBI to reopen the investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s background, a stunning turnaround in an emotional battle over sexual assault allegations that has shaken the Senate and reverberated across the country.
[…]
Late Friday, by voice vote, the Senate took an initial step to move ahead on the nomination. Barring no major revelations from the FBI, the Senate could vote on confirming Kavanaugh next weekend, days after the start of the high court’s session.

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An irreplaceable void joins the much-needed gaps

In purely linguistic terms, of course. Paul Kane, "‘Kind of an irreplaceable void’: GOP wonders if anyone can seize the McCain mantle", WaPo 8/28/2018:

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham tackled a question that many have asked since John McCain’s death Saturday: Who will fill the role of traditional conservative, particularly on national security, that has been held by the Arizona Republican for the past three decades? […]

“There’s no doubt he’s leaving a void, kind of an irreplaceable void,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said Tuesday.

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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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