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Double negatives

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Bucknutty, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. Bucknutty

    Bucknutty Member

    This happens all the time, and I want to get some other views on the topic.

    A high school athlete tells me "they weren't really playing nobody that was no good."

    I type it as "they weren't really playing anybody that was any good" ?


    "they weren't really playing (anybody) that was (any) good" ?

    or just leave it as he said it? Thoughts? And does it matter if the kid is young (i.e. high school) and old (i.e. college) -- should I give a highschooler more leeway than a college athlete?
  2. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Cleaning up grammar is a standard newspaper thing, except where the original language is used to provide local color or whatever.

    Oddly enough, the AP stylebook says "never alter quotations to correct even minor grammatical errors or word usage." Yeah, right. AP NEVER cleans up the grammar and syntax of all those athletes they quote. I guess they all went to Oxford.

    But whatever you do, don't get into that (parenthetical) business to clean up quotes. That's just making it too hard on readers.
  3. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    I ain't never seen no thread as negative as this one.

  4. Ledbetter

    Ledbetter Active Member

    I ain't neither.
  5. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    In situations where you're quoting an athlete who has availed himself of a double negative, there's no knowing what to do.

    YHS, etc
  6. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Active Member

    Not sure if this qualifies as a double negative, but I guess it is. This is my least favourite:

    Example: The now defunct World Hockey Association.

    Why use now? When else can it be defunct!? If it's defunct, it's defunct. Bottom line. I don't need a timeline telling me it's NOW defunct. It IS defunct! Plain and simple.

    de·funct –adjective
    1. no longer in effect or use; not operating or functioning: a defunct law; a defunct organization.

    The dictionary doesn't cite a now defunct organization as an example!

    PS - I wrote a story the other day and simply said the "defunct Podunk whatevers," and my editor put "now" into the sentence.
  7. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I bet we been together for a million years,
    And I bet we'll be together for a million more.
    Oh, It's like I started breathing on the night we kissed,
    And I can't remember what I ever did before.
    What would we do baby, Without Us?
    What would we do baby, Without Us?
    And there ain't no nothing we can't love each other through.
    What would we do baby, Without Us?
    Sha la la la.
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    No-no, no, no, no, no-no-no, no, no-no, no, no-no
    Na-no, no, na-no, no-no, na-no, no-no, no, no-no, no

    Nobody can do the (Shingaling!) like I do!
    Nobody can do the (Skate!) like I do!
    Nobody can do (Boogaloo!) like I do!
    Nobody can do (Philly!) like I do!!

    Well, don't you know
    I'm gonna skate right through
    Ain't nobody do it but me
    Nobody but me (nobody but me)!!

    Yeah, I'm gonna spin, I do
    Ain't nobody do it but me, babe
    (Nobody but me)
    Well, let me tell you nobody
    Nobody but me!!

    Let me tell you, nobody!!

    (Nobody) nobody
    (Nobody) nobody
    (Nobody) nobody
    (Nobody) nobody
    (Nobody) nobody
    (Nobody) nobody
    (Nobody) nobody!!

    No-no, no, no, no, no-no-no, no, no-no, no, no-no
    Na-no, no, na-no, no-no, na-no, no-no, no, no-no, no

    Nobody can do the (Shingaling!) like I do!
    Nobody can do the (Skate!) like I do!
    Nobody can do (Boogaloo!) like I do!
    Nobody can do (Philly!) like I do!

    Ooooooh, yeahhhh!!! ;D

    Nobody, nobody,
    Nobody, nobody!
  9. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    It's not a good quote. Don't use it. Don't change it, and don't use parens.
    Reword the question and ask again, or just paraphrase him or her.
  10. WazzuGrad00

    WazzuGrad00 Guest

    I think the reason is you'd want to show that the organization wasn't defunct when your subject was in its employ. I don't know how someone would work for a then-defunct organization, maybe helping to close the office, as a mover or a janitor.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I would change it to:

    Joe Running back says "to tell the truth, all their opponents were rather pedestrian."

    That gets rid of the double negative and lends a little class to the story.

    Seriously, I would use quotes that add to the story and not use quotes that don't.

    A double negative can be OK (like "We ain't never going to quit.") but this one is confusing.

    Changing to put words in parentheses is more confusing so I wouldn't use it at all.
  12. Bucknutty

    Bucknutty Member

    I obviously wouldn't use that exact quote, but was just using it as an example because I get a lot of quotes like this from high schoolers regardless of how simple I make the question.
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