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We don’t need no 18th century linguistic engineering

Herb and Jamaal, 9/13/13

OK, everybody, here’s the thing: when multiple negatives are strung together in a sentence the way that our faceless gumbo aficionado has strung them together in panel one, with the intent to intensify the negative sentiment rather than to have the negatives cancel each other out, that’s called negative concord. While this isn’t an accepted feature of high-status standard English today, it was common in old and middle English (and was extensively used by Chaucer), and is a feature of the high-status literary varieties of a number of other languages, including Portugese, Russian, Persian, and ancient Greek.

Now, arbitrary distinctions between dialects are made in every language ever spoken, so I’m not going on some quixotic quest to get negative concord back into standard English or anything, but I do have a gripe with people who pretend that dialectical uses of it are difficult or impossible to parse. People love to smugly point out that “I don’t got no money” logically means “I do have some money” — according to formal mathematical logic, which is very different from the logic that defines the grammar of naturally occurring spoken languages. But I would be very, very surprised if any competent native English speaker ever heared someone say “I don’t got no money” and genuinely believed that the speaker was claiming to have some money.

But (and here is my point) if you are going to go down this pedantic, narrow-minded, wrong-headed road, at least get your pedantry right. A double negative resolves to a positive. A triple negative resolves to a negative. You’re making yourself look dumb, Herb.

Gil Thorp, 9/13/13

Considering that some years the Milford bonfire is restricted to single glorious panel, I’m pretty excited about this fall’s installment being spread over multiple days! Even better is that this extra strip time gives us an opportunity to hear some Milford High students wax rhapsodically about the delightful smell of burning human flesh.

Blondie, 9/13/13

I’d give Dagwood a free sandwich if he showed up in that mask, wouldn’t you? I’d give him whatever he wanted. That thing is fucking terrifying.

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