Monday, June 13, 2005

TTABlog Answer To "Double Positive" Quiz

TTABlog quiz: We all know that a double negative produces a positive, right? E.g., "not unfriendly" or "not unusual." Can you think of a double positive that yields a negative? Answer below:

The late Sidney Morgenbesser, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, was renowned for his quick wit. According to the NY Times obituary:

"The most widely circulated tale — in many renditions it is even presented as a joke, not the true story that it is — was his encounter with the Oxford philosopher J. L. Austin. During a talk on the philosophy of language at Columbia in the 50’s, Austin noted that while a double negative amounts to a positive, never does a double positive amount to a negative.From the audience, a familiar nasal voice muttered a dismissive, 'Yeah, yeah.'"

Other versions of this scenario may be found on the Internet, typically featuring a wise-acre college student replying to the "double positive" question with the response, "yeah, right!"

Text ©John L. Welch 2005. All Rights Reserved.


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