another "could(n't) care less" variation

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 9 04:58:25 UTC 2010

I am not convinced. You seem to be drawing the parallel between "I
could care less" and "I couldn't care less" that are supposed to mean
the same thing. I've actually asked my friends who use the affirmative
form what they meant. The answer was, invariably, that they
*literally* meant that they could care less. Puzzled, I would ask to
elaborate--if you *could* care less, would it *not* be not the
furthest thing that you cared about? The answer was, no. They were
treating "care less" as a unit. In this case, "less" was functioning
very differently than it does in the negative expression.

The same applies to "I could give two shits about it", but it's an
even stronger argument--if I cared more, I could give three, four
shits then.

So I used "affirmative" to signify that "I could care less" means that
I am affirming how little I care, as opposed to saying that there is
no substance to caring about it, which is a negation of care.
Ultimately, the nomenclature is unimportant as long as we have a way
to distinguish the two classes. I specifically chose "affirmative"
because it made sense, in context. But if you prefer something else,
feel free to use it.


On Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 12:30 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> At 11:58 PM -0400 4/8/10, victor steinbok wrote:
>>I did not call it "positive"--it was actually something I wanted to
>>avoid. I did refer to it as "affirmative".
> Sorry, yes, you did.  But I think my earlier comment holds; it's
> affirmative or positive (I'm not sure what the difference is) in its
> form--non-negative, in any case--but negative in its force and
> behavior (as a llicenser of negative polarity items).

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