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October 12, 2014

An MIT linguistics professor

was lecturing his class the other day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. … But there isn’t a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative.” A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

Posted by gerardvanderleun at October 12, 2014 7:49 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Uh, OK.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2014 1:19 PM

I heard this story about 40 years ago. At that time, it was told about a recent philosophers' conference, at which the statement was made by a young faculty member, and the comment, uttered from the back by a distinguished but somewhat eccentric Geheimrat whose name was mentioned. I have forgotten the name, however.

Posted by: Punditarian [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2014 3:54 AM

My uncle Louie Lozko, we all called him "Letsgo Lozko", he raised bantam chickens. He assured me that chickens do talk and they have their own language. He volunteered them for service during WWII but, alas, the Army went with Indian code talkers. He was disappointed to say the least but would only offer this comment: "My chickens, dey can fly".

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2014 5:15 AM

The statement is attributed to the well-respected philosopher, J L. Austin [Oxford University] during a lecture in NYC. The reply, "Yeah, yeah." from the back of the lecture hall is attributed to Sidney Morgenbesser, philosopher and Columbia U. professor.

Another of SM's comments is [approximately] regarding Pragmatism -- "It sounds good in theory but it will never work in practice."

Posted by: Stug Guts [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2014 11:10 AM

Thank you, Stug Guts. That would place the exchange sometime in the 1950s I think, about 20 years before I heard about it. Must have been quite a moment.

Posted by: Punditarian [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2014 11:21 AM

An old error is always more popular than a new truth.
German Proverb

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 14, 2014 6:44 AM

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