Thursday, November 22, 2012

Double doubt in a triple negative

Here's another double negative sentence that could be "yes" or "no"-- why leave the reader in doubt?

So who among you doubts that football isn’t the absolute xenith of sports evolution?

The answer is supposed to be "yes!" You know, yes, we agree football rules. That's what the rest of the article develops. But--

Who among you? indicates that few among you-- so no?

Doubts-- indicates no.

Isn't -- again, no.
And putting it as a question is that false collegiality that makes my teeth hurt. 

I'm no mathematician, but I think three negative numbers multiply to a negative number:
-2 X -2 X -2 = -8, right?

Anyway, let us restate that in some way that is clear if not as clever:

Surely you realize that football is the absolute xenith of sports evolution.


You can't doubt this: football is the absolute xenith of sports evolution.

Or?  How would you revise that so that the meaning is clear and accurate?



Gayle Carline said...

"Football is the bomb, right, Dude?"

Anonymous said...

I'd go with something like "Few doubt that football is the absolute xenith of sports evolution." Though I'd also question whether "absolute" really needs to be in there. :)

Eilidh said...

Have you written about expletives? Of the nonblue variety, I mean.

For example:
"It was" near impossible to contain the agony induced by toe on table leg.
"There are" issues preventing me enjoying this book.
It was then that, it was she who, it was an hour before, etc.

If you have posts about this form of writing, can you direct me to them?