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Why are there so many postive/negative word combinations?

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11895.  Tue Dec 07, 2004 2:16 pm Reply with quote

That come to mean a positive thing, and yet only one (that i can think of) example of a positive/positive to mean a negative

"Yeah, Yeah" (in an ironic tone)

Also, does anyone know what the word for this is, because i am stupid and really bad at English and can't remember!

11899.  Tue Dec 07, 2004 5:20 pm Reply with quote

"Yeah, right" is another. There probably isn't a word for it because it's so uncommon. Like those words for affable traffic wardens, or honest politicians.

11900.  Tue Dec 07, 2004 5:24 pm Reply with quote

Do you mean "oxymoron"? This is a figure of speech which attaches apparently contradictory qualities to a single thing ("bittersweet" is the standard example), though the qualities aren't necessarily positive v negative.

11975.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 5:41 am Reply with quote

One Scots idiom - at least in Campbelltown - is 'wild' meaning 'very'. So you could talk about a'a wild nice hat' or 'a wild calm day'. Much in the same way that 'wicked' is used by teenagers now - or am I out of date already?

11978.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 6:16 am Reply with quote

'Bad' used to mean 'good' as well.

11985.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 8:32 am Reply with quote

I believe that no western language has a double negative meaning a negative
I don't know nothing
essentially means
I know something
. But languages derived from or related to Russian have double negatives meaning negatives.
What's quoted at the start of the thread is a double positive which is still positive, very similar to mathematical multiplications.
Not being a linguist or polyglot I am fully prepared to being corrected on this.


11987.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:17 am Reply with quote

Along those lines, there are numerous words that mean one thing and also the complete opposite, depending on context. Not including slang, here's a few to start with...

dust: to remove dust from (eg furniture) and to apply dust to (eg for fingerprints)
fast: capable of moving quickly, and stuck in place.
scan: examine carefully, and a casual glance.
skin: take the skin from (an animal), and apply a skin to (rice pudding)
wear: put on (clothes), and take off (erode)

I can think of one homophone : raise and raze.

Any more?

11992.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 10:54 am Reply with quote

I don't know nothing

essentially means

I know something

Not always: "I don't know nuffing, officer, honest. I never saw nobody."

11993.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 11:00 am Reply with quote

Wicked does still mean cool, although not very often. Nowadays things are "safe".
Yes, Russian does have double (and other multiple) negatives meaning negatives. I remember learning something which translated as "I never don't dance with nobody nowhere", although this was perhaps of doubtful use.

11997.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 12:16 pm Reply with quote

I believe that the term "wicked" is still used to mean good, but things like that vary from county to county - for example, in some parts of England "mint" means "cool", but "mint" is also used to mean money in others ( ie: make a mint)
But then again, I talk like a P.G. Wodehouse novel. So don't quote me on that.

11999.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 12:17 pm Reply with quote

Safe? Can`t say I`ve heard that one.
At the moment, I believe the operative term is "bling"

12006.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 12:49 pm Reply with quote

I like 'mint' very much.

'Safe' is good, too.

12016.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:39 pm Reply with quote

I believe that no western language has a double negative meaning a negative.
French has ne... pas, which seems to be a contender, at least according to Pinker.

I like the following constructions:

"That was a sweet move."
"This guitar is boss."
"His new band is money."

I also like the use of 'owns' in a sentence such as 'Man, this game owns!' to mean that it, well, rules. It's a logical step up from ruling, I suppose.

12017.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:39 pm Reply with quote

Nah, "bling" is flashy expensive jewellery, but now even the Times is using it for that, the people I know are using it ironically to describe very cheap plastic jewellery (multicoloured plastic beads, jelly bracelets, etc.)

12054.  Thu Dec 09, 2004 4:49 pm Reply with quote

In internet jargon, owns is spelt pwns. Don`t ask me why.


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