Yet more double negative jokes

« previous post | next post »

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

A lot of people came up independently with variants on "I am not not a crook".

Twitter registers some complaints from Trump supporters about Trump Derangement Syndrome, but I haven't seen any attempts to turn the double negative humor in the opposite direction.

In traditional media:

Tom Toles, "Trump doubles down on never not re-reversing no non-unchanged double non-negative un-denials", Washington Post 7/18/2018:

The Late Show, "Schoolhouse Rock! Presents: Double Negative Junction", 7/18/2018:

Alexandra Petri, "This was ‘not’ what Trump meant to say", Washington Post 7/17/2018:

It is easy to see how this might be confusing. President Trump understands how you might have gotten confused. […]

Anyway, he now is issuing an unequivocal statement that “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

Is that unequivocal or not unequivocal? Well, it is definitely one of the two, and if we decide it was not unequivocal, we can tack that “not” on in the next 24 hours without incident. […]

Trump meant to really send a stern message to Putin. He meant to not not mention human rights, and certainly he was going to stand his ground when confronting the Russian president on the subject of election interference. Instead he did not that. Easy mistake, is the point. You can think, “Wait, am I supposed to do this, or is this the thing I am supposed to not do?” and sometimes you forget and guess wrong, and that is Trump foreign policy in a notshell. […]

He does not think the American people are idiots who will just take this “not” statement at face value. He does not think so little of you. This is not insulting to you. I think I am using the right number of “not,” but these days, who knows?

For those interested in a serious analysis of the grammatical and psychological issues involved, see Lane Greene (writing as Prospero), "Double-plus un-obvious: A grammatical analysis of Donald Trump’s double negatives", 7/18/2018.


  1. BZ said,

    July 23, 2018 @ 2:55 pm

    Re: the serious analysis, without taking into account anything else Trump said (as the article doesn't either), I find it a plausible mistake to substitute "would" for "wouldn't" even without any double negatives in the picture. They just sound so similar. Also, though there's only one negative in what he actually *said*, what he *meant* to say (allegedly) would in fact be a double negative. Also also, while there is no true irrealis, "would" can be a marker of one, though whether it has any effect here is questionable.

  2. skeptical said,

    July 23, 2018 @ 9:55 pm


    1) In the original statement, the word "would" was stressed. It was VERY prominent in the sentence — with all 3 phonetic cues of increased volume, pitch, and lengthening. A wrongly chosen word pronounced in such a prominent way is usually corrected promptly by the speaker. Hard to believe it was a wrongly chosen word.

    2) He followed that sentence by giving his usual reason for believing someone — that it was told to him in a forceful, powerful, or strong way. That's the reason he gave in his first press conference for believing Manafort: "…he said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia. He said that very forcefully. I saw his statement. He said it forcefully."

    In fact, he said he didn't see any reason why it would be Russia, and he said it forcefully, which is his own criterion for making a statement believable. Then he reiterated his position by saying that Putin had made an "extremely strong and powerful" denial.

    There was no double negative for it to even be a misnegation. He's the one who invoked "double negative." Hard to imagine he didn't know what dust that would kick up.

  3. Arthur Baker said,

    July 25, 2018 @ 10:00 pm

    How much wouldn't wouldn't a wouldn'tchuck not chuck if a wouldn'tchuck couldn't chuck wouldn't?

RSS feed for comments on this post