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March 27, 2006

The Dreaded Double Negative

Too often, Orwell's Politics and the English Language is taken as a general guide to good grammar, a Strunk and White for another age. Folks forget that the point was not to play schoolmarm to an era but to demonstrate how public figures use poor writing to obscure and complicate incriminating or ugly statements. Allow Roy Blunt to demonstrate.

March 27, 2006 | Permalink

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Comments

I'm not not licking toads...

Posted by: Dave Straub | Mar 27, 2006 3:10:00 PM

Double negatives are entirely accetpable in Spanish and Portuguese:

No tengo nada.

Não tenho nada.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Mar 27, 2006 8:47:50 PM

Isn't it from the same age as Strunk and White? Strunk originally wrote it in 1935, and White revised it in 1959. Orwell's essay was right in the middle - 1946.

Posted by: John | Mar 28, 2006 3:31:15 AM

A double negative as an emphatic negative is one thing -- acceptable in many languages, and clear, although dopey sounding, in English. The Orwellian-evil double negative is the one where two negatives are used to make a confusing and shifty positive.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Mar 28, 2006 10:45:02 AM

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Posted by: peterwei | Oct 22, 2007 12:44:55 AM

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