Schedule (sk-/sh-?) etc. etc.

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jan 30 06:43:35 UTC 2001

At 6:56 PM +0000 1/30/01, Lynne Murphy wrote:
>--On Tuesday, January 30, 2001 1:48 pm -0500 David Bergdahl
><bergdahl at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU> wrote:
>>Tony Glaser wrote:
>>>And another Americanism vs. Englishism - when did "I couldn't care
>>>less" get turned into it's exact opposite "I could care less" even
>>>when the speaker means the former. I have never heard the latter in
>>>England, or the former in the US.
>Rest assured that plenty of Americans say 'I couldn't care less', and most
>(I hope all) American English teachers correct 'I could care less' when
>they come across it.

Now, now, Lynne, your prescriptivism's showing.  What's wrong with a
little creative (if by now conventionalized) irony?  As David
Bergdahl just pointed out (and as Pinker discusses in _The Language
Instinct_), 'could care less' isn't just 'couldn't care less' with a
forgotten negation, it has a completely different intonation contour
(conveying irony/sarcasm) and, if anything, corresponds more closely
to "As if I could care less".  American English teachers might point
this out rather than simply "correcting" it, but they may be too busy
convincing the same students that "As if" is not a full sentence.


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