Monday, August 2, 2010

So Much Negativity

Grammatically speaking, a double negative is a faux pas. You should obviously never commit a grammatical faux pas. However, in French, "faux" means "false", which has a negative connotation; never is also negative, so it's technically more correct to say, "You should always commit a pas." But, I shouldn't digress... or rather, I should gress.

While the "double negative" rule has been long standing and is generally undisputed... i mean puted, the origins of the rule itself are undisclosed... rrrgh... closed. By that, I mean to imply that the rule's root is actually known to a select few, and not undiscovered (I give up), as some have claimed.

I hesitate to use the word, "conspiracy", but only because the phrase, "I hesitate to..." is a worn out, euphemistic conversational device that I hesitate to... crap.

Anyway, why are we not allowed to use double negatives? If you want my opinion, it's because the grammarians of yore were either presumptuous snobs or communists. Either they honestly didn't believe our little brains could handle the back and forth switcherydoos of multiple negatives, or they were deliberately trying to make us stupider... uhh... more stupid - presumably to make the gradual introduction of their communist ideals less noticeable. Either way, I'm offended.

If someone wants to say something like, "I don't not want to never leave.", he should be allowed to do it without everyone in the room shrieking, "AHHHHH DOUBLE NEGATIVE!!" (Especially since it was a triple negative), and I should be given the opportunity to puzzle through all those negatives to figure out whether he actually wants to stay or go.

Maybe it's the programmer in me, but I think multiple negatives are fairly straightforward. Off - on - off - on... anyone able to count can get to the bottom of them. If something has to be banned from proper English, it should be vague and/or misleading statements. Phrases like, "We're looking into it" should be absolutely forbidden. The next time you hear that sentence from a customer service representative, make sure you have him define his pronouns. "We" could be him and his buddy Eugene, and "It" could be a monkey's armpit.

So I say down with rationing out our negatives like they're the final drops of water in a desert canteen. We're certainly not never going to not run out of them, so let's stop not using them.