fun with negatives

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 5 18:16:39 UTC 2011

"For shit" is an intensifier--it seems perfectly sensible if you ignore it:

     Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean I can't drive.

You may be afraid of my driving, but it does not mean that I'm a bad
driver. In other words, my driving is NOT "worth shit" (or LESS, as may
be case in "for shit")--it's worth a lot MORE.

"I can't drive for shit" is the same as "I couldn't care less".


On 10/5/2011 12:34 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> The other day I picked up a book called _Impounded_, published anonymously a
> few years ago in Maine.
> Though sold in book stores_Impounded_ is, in point of fact, a thick pad of
> adhesive bumper stickers designed especially to be applied by you - covertly
> of course - to other people's bumpers. But that's neither here nor there.
>   One of the stickers bears the following message:
> This utterance seems to be grammatical, but I confess it baffles me.  Can or
> cannot "I" (the driver-victim) "drive for sh*t"?  If so, is that good or
> bad? What effect does the reader-dupe's asserted paranoia have upon the
> driver-victim's ability to drive (or not to drive) "for sh*t"?
> In the Future, moreover, all hard-copy books will be pads of adhesive bumper
> stickers. Bumper stickers facilitate rapid recall, enable instant
> comprehension (except in this case), and, unlike the primitive books of
> today, enable the reader instantly to share his or her new insights with the
> great world at large, and in permanent form.
> JL

The American Dialect Society -

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