Nobody Does It Like Sara Lee?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Apr 19 23:54:14 UTC 2005

Check this out too :

I remember the jingle vividly after all these years just *because* of its ingeniously contorted form.  "Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee."

The erroneous interpretation strikes me as another SOTA, so obvious was the intention of the TV commercials. But if the erroneous interpreters are simply too young to remember the commercials, it's just a SOMOA (Sign Of My Old Age).


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: Re: Nobody Does It Like Sara Lee?

At 5:27 PM -0400 4/18/05, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>> > Did all of you who misheard in as "Nobody does it like Sara Lee" also
>>> hear the first line of the jingle ("Everybody doesn't like
>>> something") and the connecting "but"? For me, this would preclude
>>> the mishearing, since there's no obvious connection, much less a
>>> "but" connection, between "Everybody doesn't like something" and
>>> "nobody does it like Sara Lee", whereas the actual second line
>>> ("Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee") makes perfect sense here, although
>>> for some it may not make perfect English. Maybe they discontinued
>>> the first line some time ago; I haven't caught the jingle lately in
>>> either one-line or two-line versions, so I don't know.
>> > Larry
>Good point. I don't remember tuning in to the first part at all; if I had,
>I could have accepted "nobody doesn't like"--although I wouldn't say either
>line. Funny, I could say "everybody dislikes something"; explain that?

Well, the tricky thing about the actual line is that there's a
tendency to take the negation with wide scope, as in "Everything that
glitters isn't gold", but you can't do it with the Sara Lee line,
which has the scope "Every x...some y...not [x likes y]". With
"dislikes", on the other hand, the (incorporated) negative must have
narrow scope, so there's no possibility of the garden path.

As far as the jingle goes, there were 36 hits on google for the full
form, including this observation that mirrors our recent discussion,
as well as alluding to an earlier thread:
4 Out Of 5 Doctors Agree
Bring back the Burma Shave billboards.

For years, I thought the Sara Lee jingle said, "Nobody does it like
Sara Lee." Made sense, right? I hated this one too, because my
classmates used to sing it to me endlessly. My name is not spelled
"Sara." My middle name is not "Lee." Still, they sang it. And I hated
it. But I found out yesterday that the jingle actually says, "Nobody
doesn't like Sara Lee," like so: "Everybody doesn't like something,
but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." Ohhhhh, okay.


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