May 17, 2005

Still unpacked after all these years

As Geoff Nunberg has pointed out, it's disturbingly natural to assume that "still unpacked" means "not yet unpacked". This overnegation may be even more insidious than "fail to miss."

A Google search for {"still unpacked"} finds 785 examples, and almost every single one of them is backwards:

Somewhere, in one of 30 boxes of books still unpacked, is my copy of Genealogy.
There are still unpacked boxes on the floor...: but the computer is assembled and I'm back to limited blogging, probably for about another week.
There are the boxes still unpacked along the wall where you dropped them upon moving in four months ago.
42 boxes here... about 1/4 of which are still, 7 months later, still unpacked... guess that's why I never got the unpacking cardio workout you did!

I left him; I left the box, still unpacked at our old house.
Basil had unearthed an old office stereo system from the still unpacked Hawaii boxes in the garage...
A crate of this pottery, still unpacked, had just been delivered to Pompeii from Gaul when the town is buried by the eruption of Vesuvius.
At first, I scramble to find the binoculars I have stashed somewhere in my still unpacked bags ...
I've been scrubbing floors, unpacking boxes of still-unpacked-debris, rearranging closets and doing laundry...
[and so on...]

This has reached the point where "unpacked" by itself often now means "not unpacked":

Amid the clutter and unpacked boxes, Charlotte schleps her laptop around the house, trying to get a grip on the erotic novel she's working on.
Are you the kind of person who puts unpacked boxes in the basement of your new home to be unpacked at a later date ( 5 years later!)?
I finally got fed up that our office is a labyrinth of unpacked boxes from when we moved like five months ago, so to make a point, I hid the computer chair and stacked a bunch of boxes in front of the computer, so that we can't do anything on the computer until the boxes are unpacked.
Unpacked boxes make me crazy, so I dove in head first and didn't come up for air until it was almost all done.
Unpacked boxes from previous moves may be filled with items you will never use again.
I knew that the Box That Hath Never Been Unpacked Ever contained my Precious Moments collection ... and I thought that the Other Unpacked Boxes were mostly my yarn stash and books.

Posted by Mark Liberman at May 17, 2005 05:01 PM