Date: Fri, 5 May 1995 08:16:38 -0400


Subject: Re: negatives and positives

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the article (from the last-page "Shouts and

Murmurs") in the New Yorker of 7/25/94. It's called "How I Met My Wife", and

it's by Jack Winter. I don't have a scanner or the time to type it in in its

entirety, but a couple of paragraphs should give the flavor:

"It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very cha-

lant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate. I was furling my

wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner.

She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was

kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way."

________________ [and so on] ___________________

Winter, as you begin to gather, is fond of both negative polarity items used in

the absence of a trigger and back-formation, and I find the essay particularly

good to give to students as an exercise. The narrator makes bones about things

travels cognito, and sees both hide and hair of things; his maculate appearance

and swerving loyalty makes him, however, something to sneeze at. I recommend

it more than abashedly. (I'm especially fond of the part where he abuses the

young woman of the notion that he's sipid and petuously proceeds--with mitiga-

ted gall--to bunk a few myths about himself.)


Yes! This is a wonderful piece. I'm appointed and gusted that you mention

it and parage your taste. (My first post on this [in the "x short of a y"

thread] gives him acknowledgement). There is also a book dealing with

words that have both positive and negative meanings: downhill (it's all

downhill from here/his health is going downhill, buckle (buckle down/buckle

under), weather (he weathered the attack, his face was cracked and

weathered). I don't have the title handy. I get very flappable about this

kind of exploration and almost lose my couth, try as I might to remain

sightly and combobulated.

David Muschell