Education, Peculiar English

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction!

Some teaching techniques suggest using music in education. Music introduces a moment of relax. Music may increase motivation in students – the lesson will seem more interesting to them. Music is also a medium of systematic revision of vocabulary and grammar structures – recent studies have shown that on average a person listens to music from 6 to 8 hours a day – and it seems on the radios they keep playing the same songs all the time!

I decided to test this idea. Look what happened. I turned on the radio, I turned on the relaxation mode in my brain and I could hear Mick Jagger singing the famous: “I can’t get no satisfaction.” Did they really have to play a song with DOUBLE NEGATION?! Anyway, annoyed though I was by this DOUBLE NEGATION, I waited for the next song. Then, I understood what Steve Jobs meant when he said: “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.” Pink Floyd did that with: “We don’t need no education!” – yes, actually you do! Jobs added: “Don’t lose faith.” – I didn’t. As Marvin Gaye sings: “Ain’t no mountain high enough!”

On the whole, what’s wrong with DOUBLE NEGATION?

You see a poor person, you can’t not help them. (You will help them.)

You receive a mail from your boss, you can’t not respond to it. (You will respond, or you have already done it…)

Your friends invite you to the best party ever, you can’t not come. (There is no party when you are away!)

Skipping this lesson won’t do you no good! (so let’s study together!)

It seems DOUBLE NEGATION works well in certain contexts and in certain dialects of English it is most welcome. I believe that Julius Marx, an American comedian known as a master of quick wit, couldn’t tell me: “I cannot say that I do not disagree with you.” (If you follow his logic, it will turn out that he disagrees with somebody).


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