"not so much" 'no'

Baker, John M. JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Wed May 26 16:18:35 UTC 2010

        This is "not so much" as a humorous negative, where the humor
derives from the ironic understatement (i.e., "not so much" doesn't mean
"somewhat less," it means "not at all").  The usage was a staple on Mad
About You, as well as later television shows that have already been
cited.  The 9/30/1992 example was the earliest I saw.  In the larger
context, which I did not provide, it is clear that, while the speaker
liked the item of furniture when he thought it was a "couch," he did not
like it once he learned that it was really a "love seat."

        "Not as much" doesn't seem to work that way for me, but I don't
know why.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Joel S. Berson
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 8:28 AM
Subject: Re: "not so much" 'no'

At 5/26/2010 12:18 AM, Baker, John M. wrote:
>I believe it was first popularized by Paul Reiser in Mad About You,
>starting in 1992, and subsequently taken up by other comedians.  The
>earliest example of which I am aware is from an episode first aired
>on 9/30/1992:  "As a couch, I liked it.  And as a 'love seat,' not so

Are we distinguishing 'not so much' = 'no', 'not any', not at all',
from 'not so much' = 'not as many as', 'not as much as' -- which the
above seems to be and which even I might use?  Or is it 'so' vs. 'as'
that is interesting?


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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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