Date: Sat, 8 Oct 1994 13:03:59 -0500 From: "Timothy C. Frazer" 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, > Tim? > > 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.