Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Double negative

This is in conversation, and we're not always really clear in conversation. But I thought it was a great example of a double negative. This is the Lakers coach about their loss to the Mavericks last night.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, "I'm not so sure Dallas didn't outplay us."

 So.... did the Mavs outplay them or not?  I don't know! I don't even know what he thinks!

Just a reminder that double-negatives ("not/didn't") are generally confusing. Use them if you want a certain ambiguity or resonance (as with Iago's self-definition: "I am nothing if not contrary"). But don't confuse if you don't mean to confuse!

(I'm sure poor Coach Jackson was so perplexed at his #1 team yet again losing the first game at home in a playoff series that he just couldn't get a straight thought out. Plus he's Buddhist, right? So he's been schooled in presenting contradictions as wisdom. :)



Misha Gerrick said...

Lol there ain't no way that that can be seen as a wise statement.


Anyway, I read somewhere that double negatives used to be seen as a way to emphasize the negative. But I'm not sure if that's true.

Edittorrent said...

Yeah, "there ain't no way" is a double-negative to emphasize the negative. I don't know about the coach's. Maybe if we were Buddhist...?

Edittorrent said...
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Adrian said...

I agree it's difficult, but I (think I) understand the coach's statement. The problem is, I don't see a way to rephrase it more simply without losing a bit of precision or nuance.

Edittorrent said...

Okay, so does it mean that they DID outplay the Lakers, or did not? And does he think that, or not? Maybe I'm easily confused.

Graphics Design said...

Dirk is one of the most underrated players in NBA history. The Mavs change up their roster so much but he is the one constant, and they win ~ 50 games every year. I’d love to see him get a ring this year, it would really help change the way a lot of NBA followers see him (primarily colored by European stereotypes).