Did she smile or not?

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What a grim life Nicole must have led! Or was her life full of canines and smiles?

[h.t. Geok Hoon (Janet) Williams]


  1. Bloix said,

    April 30, 2018 @ 4:43 pm

    From today's Above the Law:
    Former Law Clerk About To Stand Trial For Allegedly Impersonating Judge Found Dead In Apparent Suicide

  2. zafrom said,

    April 30, 2018 @ 7:16 pm

    For the sake of Nicole's thighs, it hopefully contains only 2 small dogs.

  3. FM said,

    April 30, 2018 @ 9:34 pm

    Shouldn't this be filed under "ambiguity" rather than "misnegation"?

    I'm assuming the intended interpetation is:
    "who never (saw a dog and didn't smile.)"

  4. MattF said,

    April 30, 2018 @ 10:01 pm

    I think it's very nearly unfixable. "…who always greeted a dog with a smile."

  5. David Morris said,

    April 30, 2018 @ 10:40 pm

    "who smiled whenever she saw a dog"?

  6. Jeremy Daum said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 12:45 am

    Who never failed to smile when she saw a dog.
    Who never saw a dog that didn't make her smile.

  7. Ray said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 12:47 am

    "who never saw a dog but didn't smile" probably doesn't help, either!

  8. Keith said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 1:22 am

    "Could never see a dog without smiling" might have been better.

    But it's not really all that ambiguous.

    Surely, if you wanted to state that she never saw a dog, neither did she ever smile, the simple insertion of a comma after the word "dog" would have sufficed. The comma is absent, so that meaning is excluded.

  9. maidhc said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 3:13 am

    None of the proposed alternatives have the attractive rhythmic structure of the original. I'd like to let it stand.

  10. B.Ma said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 3:14 am

    Is there really a need for the "who"? Why not just "All dogs made her smile" or something along those lines?

  11. Ryan said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 3:43 am

    Most of the rephrasings suggested here kind of miss the point. If you're going to rephrase it, keep the Will Rogers allusion intact.

  12. Iño said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 5:25 am

    Who never saw a dog and didn’t smile?

  13. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 9:22 am

    The way to make it parallel to the Will Rogers line would be "Who never saw a dog she didn't smile at." At least assuming that in this sort of genre you're not going to be paralyzed with fear of getting in trouble by using a preposition in final position.

  14. J. Silk said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 11:40 am

    @maidhc said,
    … I'd like to let it stand.

    But … it's on a bench, so…

  15. Victor Mair said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 11:59 am

    From Thomas L. Mair:

    Fun! I tried to come up with an option but I believe they're all covered already.

    Now someone needs to come up with a response that says when Nicole greeted a dog, the dog would invariably smile.

  16. Ellen K. said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 5:45 pm

    I got the right reading first (that is, assuming the point is she never saw a dog without smiling), and thought it sounded awkward. Whereas the wrong reading isn't awkward sounding, it just seems a very unlikely thing to say.

  17. The Suffocated said,

    May 1, 2018 @ 10:27 pm

    In loving memory of Leatherface, who never sawed a dog and didn't smile.

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