Watch this "Double Negative Junction" Schoolhouse Rock episode to help you sound as sharp as Trump

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If they’re hoping to reach Dolt-45 with this it might be too advanced. A “Sesame Street” or “Teletubbies” parody might be more his speed.


That was really good and clever and everything, but Trump’s would/wouldn’t gaffe (or whatever it was) isn’t a good example of deliberately confusing wording.

Trump now says that what he meant to say was “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be (the Russians).”

That’s not a confusing sentence.

Trump is a liar and a dope and a horrible person (and not a graceful orator), but I think people are reaching.


Agreed. It’s not incorrect grammar or usage.

As a side note, I have heard English-speaking grammar Nazis purists describing the double negative as if it was a logic puzzle - even the linked video did that, a little. But French abounds with double negatives, as do Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. English is the weird one.

To state the obvious: Even though it uses borrowed terms, English isn’t French. Or Latin. Or Greek. Or Hebrew.

Deliberately deploying a double negative isn’t a normal part of English conversation. It can be an effective rhetorical device when deftly employed, but it’s effective because it pulls the listener up short and forces them to really think through what they just heard. More often a double negative in English is simply a misspeak resulting from sloppy thinking and sentence construction - “I ain’t never seen such a thing” literally means the speaker has seen such a thing, but you’d probably be correct to assume that they meant to say they hadn’t.

But all that is beside the point. When you listen to the audio it is abundantly clear what drumpf meant, regardless of what he subsequently claimed.


Many English dialects use so-called double negatives all the time.

Yes. And even in English, we rarely interpret “double negatives” as “positives.” I mean, people trying to play Gotcha! do, sure, but no one else does.

In a normal context, if you hear someone say, “I didn’t eat nothing all day,” you won’t think for even a split second that the person means that he did eat something.

“Two negatives make a positive” is always true in multiplication, but in not in language.


Double positive as a negative: “Yeah, right.”


Apt, but not quite as good as the original, (obviously.)


Except that, occasionally, two negatives do make a positive, in English. It’s a rhetorical device that even had a name, back in Greece: “He was not without wisdom.”

Just to keep things interesting.



The rule against double negatives in English is imposed, not native to our language. Two negatives still are negative to any speaker who isn’t brainwashed by perscriptive grammer nuts. Seriously, the rule was made up by Robert Lowth in 1762, if I remember correctly, cribbed from an equally prescriptive French grammatist, who was inspired by the rules of Latin. It’s currently used to cast aspersions on common speech. Get over it already.


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