He uses the expression as an implicitly negative idiom, conveying something like couldn’t care less, but a bit more compactly. She peeves at him, he analyzes what she might be doing with her peeve, and eventually he uses the idiom to her.
Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category
Heavy advertisement on cable tv for the summer-end event Shweekend (Shark Weekend — somehow, sharks provoke portmanteaus) on the Discovery Channel.
(The poster plays on the film title Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!)
Today’s Calvin and Hobbes:
As on other occasions, Calvin asks his father an information question and gets a less than useful response. In this case, the meaning of the old college try is clear, but its history is not quite so clear.
From the 5/30 Economist, in “Republicans in name aussi” on Nicolas Sarkozy:
Even if the relaunch succeeds, however, Mr Sarkozy will have his work cut out.
Pretty clearly, the intention here is to convey ‘will have his work cut out for him’, that is ‘will have difficulty completing his work’, with the idiom have one’s work cut out for one, but here in a truncated variant. The shorter variant is simply not possible for me, though I can figure it out. It turns out that the shorter variant is specifically British. (Remember that the Economist is a British publication.)
A Meg Biddle cartoon in the June 2015 Funny Times:
Yes-no questions with the tag or what? are regularly used to emphatically assert the truth of the questioned proposition. So
Is this a great country, or what?
has the effect of proclaiming that this is indeed a great country. But the question has at least one other reading, merely asking for an alternative answer to Is this a great country?, and that’s the reading Biddle is playing with in the cartoon.
Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with a literalist Ralph coping with Grimm’s could care less:
could care less has been a perennial topic on Language Log and this blog. But in all the discussion among linguists and psycholinguists no one disputes that there’s an idiom here, and it has a negative element of meaning that is not overt. Ralph the literalist essentially denies this, implicitly taking the position that if Grimmy meant he couldn’t care less he should have said that.