"Inappropriate and inoffensive"

« previous post | next post »

Morphological negative concord? Or just a slip of the fingers?

[link] The Labour Court report does not detail what was contained in the graphic, but stated it “was inappropriate and inoffensive”.
[link] Al Franken, who was also scheduled to appear on the show, has canceled, calling Maher's words “inappropriate and inoffensive.”
[link] The IPSA worker said they found this “deeply inappropriate and inoffensive” but the MP's staff “laughed and agreed” with the term.
[link] Objectors said it was demeaning to women and the privacy of childbirth and was inappropriate and inoffensive.
[link] Access to the Internet is regulated centrally via a third party provider, to ensure that inappropriate and inoffensive sites cannot be accessed.

With "or" rather than "and":

[link] … the consequences of using inappropriate or inoffensive humor in a professional setting or over a professional channel are very dire …
[link] While they apologize for it, I am not sure why Google actually removes inappropriate or inoffensive material.
[link] Each is seen as inappropriate or inoffensive by a number of people who felt so strongly that they didn't just vent their views on social media, they went so far as to lodge a formal complaint.
[link] Any article of clothing may not bear inappropriate or inoffensive logos or printing.




  1. Mona Williams said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 12:01 pm

    The rhythm of it…. We just can't help ourselves.

  2. Gregory Kusnick said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 12:30 pm

    In the last example, "Any article of clothing may not bear…" doesn't quite work for me. "No article of clothing may bear…" is clear enough, as is "Articles of clothing may not bear…" But "any…may not…" seems wrong somehow.

  3. David said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

    Maybe they're confused by the two meanings of "inflammable."

    The real problem here is not "inoffensive," but the vagueness of "inappropriate," which generally turns out to mean "whatever the authorities don't like."

  4. Max Wheeler said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 3:49 pm

    I guess they acknowledge that the behaviour, whatever it was, was appropriate and offensive.

  5. Ed M said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 5:16 pm

    "Adolescents who enter the workplace learn the standards of conduct there. Adolescents who go off to collect are educated in courses about American history, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, religion, or censorship that add more to their understanding of what is appropriate and offensive in American culture."

    We Did What?! Offensive and Inappropriate Behavior in American History, Introduction page xiv.


    Or should it have read "appropriate or offensive"?

  6. Ed M said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 5:17 pm

    "go off to collect" s/b "go off to college" — sorry for the typo

  7. Jerry Friedman said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 5:21 pm

    David: The real problem here is not "inoffensive," but the vagueness of "inappropriate," which generally turns out to mean "whatever the authorities don't like."

    It appears that in the case of the IPSA worker, at least, the situation was the opposite.

    Gregory Kusnick: I agree that "Any… may not…" seemed odd. I looked at the site to see whether the context justified the phrasing somehow, and I can report that the official writing at that school in 2009, when the handbook was published, was not what I'd like to see as an educational model.

  8. Jerry Friedman said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 5:24 pm

    Ed M: I'd like "their understanding of what is appropriate and what is offensive".

  9. Gregory Kusnick said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

    Jerry: I'm wondering if maybe it started life as something like "Any article of clothing that bears inappropriate or inoffensive logos or printing must be removed." But then somebody saw the obvious problem with that.

  10. richardelguru said,

    March 8, 2018 @ 7:14 am

    I'm just glad that it wasn't appropriate and offensive!

  11. Paul Kay said,

    March 9, 2018 @ 12:15 am

    The Daylight Screen was made of a soft, waterproof and inflammable material that could be rolled up for easy transport and storage.

    The firemen were trying out some new firefighting gear that was waterproof and inflammable.

    I claim a waterproof and inflammable cartridge made substantially as described.

    The object here is to produce cartridge cases that shall combine the properties of waterproof and inflammable.

    Flooring should be waterproof and inflammable, provided with water retaining and separating pails to avoid liquid spread in case of accidental leakage.

    The bubble tent is easy to install and very mobile. They are waterproof and inflammable and they come in various sizes.

    Dunnage bags are very safe to use for both the shipping and receiving end of transportation, and are waterproof and inflammable.

    It's the monkey brain problem, I guess. [All via Google search. Sorry, I don't know how to put links in a comment. You can do verbatim searches if you don't believe me.]

  12. Paul Kay said,

    March 9, 2018 @ 12:37 am

    FWIW I found a just few "inflammable and waterproof" tokens, but way exceeded by "non-inflammable and waterproof" ones. From this sketchy and utterly uncontrolled experiment it seems that maybe its harder to get the negative prefix wrong if it comes first.

  13. Rodger C said,

    March 9, 2018 @ 9:27 am

    IIRC, trucks carrying stuff that could burn used to say INFLAMMABLE, but this was changed because a lot of people thought it meant "not flammable," so now the truck warnings read FLAMMABLE. The uses of "inflammable" above therefore probably come from people deliberately using it to mean "not flammable."

  14. Paul Kay said,

    March 9, 2018 @ 10:02 pm

    Rodger C is probably right.

  15. MarkB said,

    March 10, 2018 @ 2:01 pm

    If there's anything to it, I suspect it would come from an effort to pile on. Not just inappropriate, but… (and more). The 'in' modifier becomes a sign of 'I don't like it,' and gets doubled in the second word.

RSS feed for comments on this post