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Old 05-14-2013, 03:40 PM   #16
alanHd
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Does it mean that to break up with someone, all you need to do is use a badly written sentence?
Damn i wondered what i did wrong
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:48 PM   #17
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Double negatives are particularly irksome, too - Pink Floyd comes to mind. "We don't need no education..."
I tend not to use double negatives myself, but they are an acceptable grammatical construct. Double negatives are used for emphasis. You should not use boolean logic when parsing English.

But "I could care less" is just wrong.

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Old 05-14-2013, 08:57 PM   #18
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I tend not to use double negatives myself, but they are an acceptable grammatical construct. Double negatives are used for emphasis. You should not use boolean logic when parsing English.

But "I could care less" is just wrong.
No, it isn't. It's a proper idiom and has been used in print for 50 years. See also "I could give a rat's *ss". Language doesn't usually have much to do with logic.
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:10 PM   #19
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Bad grammar and spelling in the hands of a master is an art form. Not every work of literature has to be Oxford perfect, as Salma Rushdie and Toni Morrison have proven.

My significant other has a weak spot for idiomocracy, a word I made up for idioms that defy any rules of construction. Let the mind wander and you can go anywhere, including the moon.
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:53 AM   #20
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HAHAHAHAHA. Hmmm. Some guys with really high standards want a woman with really good grammar. But some men just want sexy bodies, and the like. hahaha
I don't think this is true.
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Old 05-15-2013, 04:59 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
...But "I could care less" is just wrong.

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Originally Posted by Andrew H. View Post
No, it isn't. It's a proper idiom and has been used in print for 50 years. See also "I could give a rat's *ss". Language doesn't usually have much to do with logic.
Just because it's been used in print for fifty years doesn't make it correct. And your analogy is faulty.
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Old 05-15-2013, 05:13 AM   #22
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Yet it seems the people who dislike "could care less" are fighting a losing battle. Here's a statistic about the ratio of "could" vs. "couldn't" in the NYT:

----------"couldn't care less"--"could care less"
ratio
1960-1969 ------- 245 ---------- 5 --------- 2.04%
1970-1979 ------- 369 --------- 42 ------- 11.38%
1980-1989 ------- 274 --------- 77 ------- 28.10%
1990-1999 ------- 248 -------- 147 ------- 59.27%
2000-2009 ------- 259 -------- 194 ------- 74.90%

The whole article here.
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Old 05-15-2013, 06:49 AM   #23
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It seems, according to Google's Ngram viewer, that couldn't care less is still the large majority of uses.
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Old 05-15-2013, 07:38 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doubleshuffle View Post
Yet it seems the people who dislike "could care less" are fighting a losing battle. Here's a statistic about the ratio of "could" vs. "couldn't" in the NYT. . . .
I appreciate that you're using the phrase fighting a losing battle as a figure of speech, but my sense is that a few people on this thread do regard others' incorrectness as a dialectical call to arms.

Here's my question about that:

Why should our passion for conveying thought clearly be expressed as a battle with other people?

I can't change someone else's writing style, and I certainly don't want to shame them for it. The only thing I can do is improve my own.

When others say they wish they cared less than they do but are actually trying to say they don't care in the slightest, I try to overlook their mistake. If they aspire to correctness and have made it known they won't flinch or wilt if I point out they've misspoken, then I might act on their implicit request -- if I think it is sincere -- and ask the question: Do you mean you couldn't care less?

What I try never to do is behave as if they've failed an intelligence test.

In my own writing, however, I do try to be vigilant. The aim is to excise any errors or overtones that could distract the reader from what I'm trying to say.

It doesn't matter whether the style and character are discrete (as in Flaubert's "A Simple Heart") or seamless (as in Last Exit to Brooklyn, which also happens to be ostensibly indiscreet). The goal for any of us is to judge our writing mercilessly.

"Move among the lovers of perfection alone.
Seek ever to stand in that hard Sophoclean light
and take your wounds from it gladly."
-- Ezra Pound, "Xelia"

But here's the thing:

When interacting with friends, I believe it's important to respect the casual qualities of their communication. If I like someone -- let alone, love them -- then I'd rather have them feel comfortable with me than writhe on the tweezers of self-consciousness.

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 05-15-2013 at 08:00 AM.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:31 AM   #25
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When interacting with friends, I believe it's important to respect the casual qualities of their communication. If I like someone -- let alone, love them -- then I'd rather have them feel comfortable with me than writhe on the tweezers of self-consciousness.
I couldn't agree more (why isn't it possible to say "I could agree more", btw?). I try not to fight any language battles - particularly in a language which isn't my mother tongue. It is certainly interesting to note, however, how high passions can run concerning the correct use of language.

And I think that isn't only a bad thing; doesn't it show that many people still feel language does matter?

Yet I think there is a big difference between public and private discourse. In personal contact with people I try to understand what they want to say and wouldn't start any nitpicking - unless I would see a real danger of misunderstanding. In public discourse (journalism, politics...) it's different due to the risk of sloppy language - intentionally or unintentionally - obfuscating truth. That's why teaching good, clear writing - which includes really thinking about what one wants to say - would be very nice. It's certainly not happening at schools where I live.

But I won't start correcting my wife's or my friends' every little slip of grammar; life would become very unpleasant very quickly.

But back to the "care less" problem. I remembered reading a linguist's defence of "I could care less". I thought it was David Crystal, but actually it was Steven Pinker. His The Language Instinct contains a nice polemic against the "language mavens", and it contains this passage:

Quote:
A tin ear for prosody (stress and intonation) and an obliviousness to the principles of discourse and rhetoric are important tools of the trade for the language maven. Consider an alleged atrocity committed by today’s youth: the expression I could care less. The teenagers are trying to express disdain, the adults note, in which case they should be saying I couldn’t care less. If they could care less than they do, that means that they really do care, the opposite of what they are trying to say. But if these dudes would stop ragging on teenagers and scope out the construction, they would see that their argument is bogus. Listen to how the two versions are pronounced:

[see attached image]

The melodies and stresses are completely different, and for a good reason. The second version is not illogical, it’s sarcastic. The point of sarcasm is that by making an assertion that is manifestly false or accompanied by ostentatiously mannered intonation, one deliberately implies its opposite. A good paraphrase is, “Oh yeah, as if there was something in he world that I care less about.”
I'm not a native speaker, so I couldn't say if I agree. As an observer I note, however, that there seem to be language experts who have nothing against "I could care less".

And back again to language battles: Prototype semantics (the kind of semantics that claims - to the horror of classical logicians - that a robin is "more bird" than a penguin, for instance) can really spice up a party. You only have to find an item which is not a good example of its category. In German it works very nicely with a mug. Some will say it is a Tasse, while others will insist that it can never be called a Tasse but only a Pott or a Becher. Usually groups are split in half about this issue, and nobody is willing to compromise. Great fun! What could you use for that game in English?
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Last edited by doubleshuffle; 05-15-2013 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:10 PM   #26
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If you wish to have no friends, be pedantic in speaking. I will tolerate scrutiny of my written words more easily than what is said over coffee.
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Old 05-15-2013, 06:31 PM   #27
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Friends ? what for ? A pox on friends !
They are not there when you really need them. I don't need any friends,
I couldn't care less about friends ...
Books are my friends, books are good friends

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If you wish to have no friends, be pedantic in speaking. I will tolerate scrutiny of my written words more easily than what is said over coffee.
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Old 05-15-2013, 07:36 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Prestidigitweeze View Post
...I'd rather have them feel comfortable with me than writhe on the tweezers of self-consciousness.
I would have agreed with you. Since you put it that way, however, the second option seems so much more fun.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:06 PM   #29
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Some people focus on the small things, like grammar, and often miss the big things, like context.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:20 PM   #30
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The thing that bothers me is when someone says "Do you mind if..." and the answer is yes. So the person who asked goes ahead and does it anyway.

The answer should actually be no if you don't mind.
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