Rachel's Blog: Double Positive

Thu, 10 Feb 2005

A linguistics lecturer was explaining double negatives to his students, and he told them, "In English a double negative always means a positive, but there is no case where a double positive means a negative."
A voice from the back of the room said, "Yeah, right."

(Ruthlessly nicked from 'Needs a good edit', Write On, Feb 2005, the newsletter of the Victorian Writers' Centre.)

Comment by toby on Thu, 10 Feb 2005

The problem is that "Yeah, right" doesn't mean "no" in and of itself. The inflection is key here, in the same way that inflection and context can modify yes/yeah by itself to mean something form pretty much anywhere in the spectrum of truth values.

This all just goes to show: you can't treat language like you do logic.

Comment by Rachel Holkner on Fri, 11 Feb 2005

True, but not so funny.

Comment by toby on Fri, 11 Feb 2005

The truth often isn't.