Sunday, February 14, 2010

The double positive

The eminent linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin of Oxford once gave a lecture in which he asserted that there are many languages in which a double negative makes a positive, but none in which a double positive makes a negative — to which the Columbia philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser, sitting in the audience, sarcastically replied, “Yeah, yeah.”
--Steven Strogatz, NYT, on a lightning-fast linguistic wit

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