more negative mischief

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 7 16:29:52 UTC 2004

>susan stamberg, on today's Morning Edition (NPR), remarked that ronald
>reagan "was not afraid to mince his words", thus piling on rather too
>much negation.

As W. B. Hodgson (1885)  [Errors in the Use of English; New York:
Appleton] p. 21 muttered gloomily a while back, "Piled-up negatives
prove easy stumbling-blocks."

>  "didn't mince his words" would have done.  "was not
>afraid to be outspoken" or "to speak clearly" would have done.  but
>this version has him fearlessly mincing his words.
>arnold (zwicky at

As Jerry would say (if I hadn't beaten him to it), a very nice syntactic blend.


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