Date: Sat, 8 Oct 1994 13:03:59 -0500

From: "Timothy C. Frazer" mftcf[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UXA.ECN.BGU.EDU

Subject: Re: Name that syntagm

On Fri, 7 Oct 1994, Bethany Dumas, UTK wrote:

Mark Frank has asked me for my "evidence" that "could care less" is the

natural (and highly predictable) result of the phonological reduction of

"could not care less." Briefly, when "could not care less" is

contracted (as statements containing negatives usually are in informal

speech), it ends up with a /dntk/ internal sequence. I suspet that

consonant cluster reduction gets rid of the /t/ and reduces the /n/ to

nasalization of the preceding vowel.

There's another factor, I think. Americans in general are uptight about

double negatives, and I think that "less" is perceived as a kind of

negative, which makes it appropriate to get rid of the "not" or "n't."

Finally, I simply do not hear sarcasm or irony in the voices of those who

say "could care less."

Tim Frazier wrote to say that he is a believer,also. What is your analysis,


Bethany Dumas = dumasb[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

I think Bethany's hypothesis about consonant cluster reduction is very

convincing. About sarcasm: I first heard this expression 34 years ago

and have run into it frequently since. I have never heard it in a frame

where it would work to read the remark as sarcasm.