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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 […]

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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 […]

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Indistinguishable misnegation

David Frum, "Donald Trump's Bad Bet on Anger", The Atlantic 7/21/2016 [emphasis added]: Donald Trump’s supporters yearn for the country as it was and fear the country as it is. Tonight’s powerfully dystopian Trump nomination acceptance address will touch them at their deepest emotional core. It will ignite a passionate spasm of assent from those […]

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Misnegation correction

Dahlia Lithwick, "The Ideal Allies", Slate 6/27/2016: Make no mistake, Whole Woman’s Health is a massive win for choice, even though nobody believed that the very core of Planned Parenthood v. Casey wasn't in peril this term.* *Update, June 27, 2016: This story also originally said nobody believed that the very core of Planned Parenthood […]

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Misnegations, or scribal errors?

JVB wrote to point out that there's apparently an extra negation in a quotation presented in a current New York Time book review (Janet Maslin, "‘Maestra,’ a Novel of Sex, Murder and Shopping', 4/12/2016, emphasis added): “Maestra” is the work of L. S. Hilton, who is otherwise the British historian Lisa Hilton, but wanted to […]

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Waste bin misnegation

I saw a sticker on the lid of a pedal-operated hospital waste bin that said this: THIS SACK HOLDER IS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO BE FOOT OPERATED ONLY. THE LID MUST NOT BE HAND OPERATED AND PUSHED PAST THE POINT WHERE IT WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY RETURN TO THE CLOSED POSITION. Everyone who uses the bin sees […]

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Misnegation or term of art?

Roni Caryn Rabin, "No Easy Choices on Breast Reconstruction", NYT Blogs 5/20/2013: A syndrome called upper quarter dysfunction — its symptoms include pain, restricted immobility and impaired sensation and strength — has been reported in over half of breast cancer survivors and may be more frequent in those who undergo breast reconstruction, according to a […]

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Misnegation of the week

From the 5/16/2013 decision of the Third Circuit, invalidating an NLRB decision based on the argument that the "recess appointment" of one of the board's members was invalid: The "main purpose" of the Recess Appointments Clause, therefore, is not—as the Eleventh Circuit held and the Board argues—only "to enable the President to fill vacancies to […]

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Misnegation mailbag

Here are some items sent in by readers over the past few weeks, to add to our list of misnegations. Larry Horn, on ADS-L: "We'll see the fate of the coaching staff of Dallas…This cannot be understated, though, or overstated: whether it's his fault or not, Tony Romo is now 1-6 in win or go […]

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Misnegation of the month

From Lauri Karttunen (via Arnold Zwicky): I have come to realize that there are a lot of examples on the web of the type "not want to not X" that seem to say the opposite of what they mean. Here are a few: She failed to give the patient CPR and turned an ambulance away […]

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Theological misnegation?

"Pope condones condom use in exceptional cases", BBC News, 11/20/2010: Catholic commentator Austen Ivereigh said that although this was the first time the Pope had voiced such an opinion, it was in line with what Catholic moral theologians have been saying for many years. "The Church's teaching on contraception predates the discovery of Aids," Mr […]

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Misnegation of the week

From a letter to the editor in the Nov. 8 New Yorker: Such rhetoric then [by left-wing critics of George W. Bush] was hardly less corrosive, or less supported by scholarly reasoning, than the crackpot vitriol now spewed by Beck and his ilk. As we've noted many times, combinations of negation and scalar predicates are […]

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Misnegation in the Encyclopedia Britannica

Breffni O'Rourke has contributed a lovely specimen to our growing collection of cases where combinations of negations and scalar predicates leave writers and readers in a state of confusion. This one is from the EB section on the 14th and 15th centuries in Ireland (full path "Ireland:History:First centuries of English rule (1166-1600):The 14th and 15th […]

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