Search Results

Never fails: semantic over-achievers

I am quite certain that the reviewer kiwi78 was trying to do good things for the Nahm restaurant in Knightsbridge, a district of south-west London. But the comment left at the site's page about Nahm actually said that the restaurant "never fails to disappoint." Think about it for a moment. For the restaurant, that's […]

Comments off

Watching the deceptive

After almost a month, I'm finally following up on the results of the single-question surveys that I asked Language Log readers to participate in. Each survey received an overwhelming 1500+ responses, and I didn't realize that I needed a "pro" (= "paid") account on SurveyMonkey in order to view more than the first 100. I […]

Comments (65)

Never no one without Cornish

Wikipedia's article on the Cornish language (the Brythonic Celtic language once spoken in the county of Cornwall, England) quotes this sentence (twice, in fact) from Henry Jenner, author of Handbook of the Cornish Language (1904): There has never been a time when there has been no person in Cornwall without a knowledge of the Cornish […]

Comments off

Not sacrificing anything to prevent anything…not

From a article (about a police chief who recommends keystroke-logging your kids to obtain their passwords so you can find out where they go online) comes this disastrous tangle of a sentence, which will take hours of police time to clear up: "When it comes down to safety and welfare of your child, I […]

Comments off

Miss not

Yesterday's Beetle Bailey, pointed out by Karen Davis:

Comments (45)

Gov. Cuomo and our poor monkey brains

My latest reader response for The New York Times Magazine's On Language column tackles a turn of phrase that has come up on Language Log many times: cannot be underestimated. The occasion is New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's inaugural address earlier this month, in which the governor used the magic phrase twice (and talked […]

Comments (43)

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 […]

Comments (13)

Nothing that wasn't something one might not hear

Reading Dana Stevens "Ferguson and Fry Rock Late Night by Having Actual Conversation", Slate 2/24/2010, Mark Paris came across this sentence: There was no part of their chat that wasn't something one might not overhear at an interesting dinner party. His reaction, in email to me, was "I know what was meant, but didn't it […]

Comments (15)

Imprudent not to expect a silver bullet?

From Paul Kay, this passage from an email recently sent by the Chair of the UC Berkeley Academic Senate: As background, the state continues to anticipate a very large deficit this year.  While the Governor's budget did call for restoring approximately $300M in funds cut last year from the UC budget, it would probably not […]

Comments (15)

No post too obscure to escape notice

Following up on my post about the often-puzzling semantics of the pattern "No NOUN is too ADJECTIVE to VERB", here's an up-to-date list of LL postings on a cluster of related topics, which I will keep updated as the years roll by:

Comments off

No detail too small

John V. Burke wrote to draw my attention to a phrase in Walter Kaiser's "Saving the Magic City", NYRB, 12/3/2009 (emphasis added): Roeck's book, for which he has done an impressive amount of research, tries to be a number of things at once: it is an account of the social and intellectual world of the […]

Comments (24)

"The risk that the taxpayer does not bear a disproportionate burden"

In a recent IMF report on Ireland, point 47 of the "Staff Appraisal" (p. 28), dealing with a proposed "National Asset Management Agency" (aka "Bad Bank"), reads: 47. With regard to NAMA, risk-sharing structures should be considered to address the well-known pricing problem. The pricing of distressed assets is complex and can slow down the […]

Comments (3)

The shyness of architects

Martin Filler, "Maman's Boy", New York Review of Books 56(7), 4/30/2009 [Frank Lloyd] Wright's self-portrait as a heroic individualist served as the prototype for Howard Roark, the architect-protagonist of Ayn Rand's 1943 best-seller, The Fountainhead. But the novelist transmogrified Wright's entertaining egotism into Roark's suffocating megalomania, an image closer to that of another contemporary coprofessional: […]

Comments (9)