In the course of further poking around on the refute that X story, I stumbled over one of the curious non-negative nots that Chris Potts has recently discussed. In today's Oswego Daily News, Nicole M. Reome tells us about Richard M. Duffy's plans to start a new company to make chocolate in an abandoned Nestle's plant in Fulton.
"If this weren't a Nestle plant, we probably wouldn't have pursued it," Duffy, a consultant to Nestle, noted. "Because it was, we didn't even have to look at it. Nestle is revered as being the best in the business. I challenge anyone to refute that the company is not the most efficient producer in North America."
We all know what he means. But we would have been at least as happy if he had said "I challenge anyone to refute that the company is the most efficient producer in North America." (Substitute deny for refute if the usage bothers you, that's not the point here).
Is this a case where the force of the sentence is logically the same with or without the extra not?
Or did Mr. Duffy just get confused? He tells us that reviving the factory was pretty linguistically hectic for him:
"For 39 consecutive days, I had three phones going nonstop for more than 12 hours each day," Duffy explained. "It was exciting. I just got into it."
That's about 39*12*3*60*150 = 12,636,000 words. After all that verbal action, what's another not more or less?Posted by Mark Liberman at January 21, 2004 09:48 PM