The New York Times ran a bewildering headline on May 6, 1965:
“Albany Kills Bill to Repeal Law Against Birth Control”
… a triple (quadruple?) negative.
In a 1975 interview with Business Week, Henry Kissinger said, “I am not saying that there’s no circumstances where we would not use force” against Saudi Arabia. Is this what he meant to say?
At a New York conference of linguistic philosophers in the 1950s, Oxford professor J.L. Austin noted that while a double negative often expresses a positive — as in “not unattractive” — there is no example in English of a double positive expressing a negative.
Columbia philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser, who was in the audience, sarcastically replied, “Yeah, yeah …”