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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sentences Written in the Absence of Thought

Will not be understood: I bought a train ticket today and happened to look at the fine print. I was struck by the following: "Fares paid in the absence of a ticket will not be refunded."

I *think* what they mean is, "If you lost your ticket, you can't get no refund." But instead of just saying what they meant, they decided to write in bureaucratese.

3 comments:

  1. What's up with the double negative, Gene? Or, was that deliberate?

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  2. It certainly was. Here is another writer of English who saw nothing wrong with double negatives:

    "nor your name is not Master Cesario; nor this is not my nose neither. Nothing that is so is so."

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    Replies
    1. I have no problem with double negatives in the English language, as I am certainly not a pedant. Also, having dug into linguistics a bit over this past year, I do find certain word combinations interesting (while many people would think they are incorrect). In any case, the double negative that you provide actually makes it look like refunds are given to those who lose their ticket. In fact, it pretty much makes it look like a refund is a mandatory if you lose your ticket. That's what I was noticing.

      Obviously, you were being humorous... and I think that what I noticed was your actual intent. So, I guess what I should really be saying is "ha" and, um... "ha". LOL

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