TIL linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin made the claim that there is no language in which a double positive implies a negative during a lecture. To which someone responded, “Yeah, yeah.”

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I heard this once, except the phrase used was “Yeah, right”


“Someone”? Why not shout out to Sydney Morgenbesser, who made the joke? He had lots of great lines. He’s like the Yogi Berra of philosophy. I like his statement toward the end of his life: “Why is God torturing me like this? Just because I don’t believe in him?”


But linguistically, the double positive isn’t what makes it negative, sarcasm is. Where as with a real double negative, the words themselves create the positive.


> To which someone responded, “Yeah, yeah.” Sidney Morgenbesser. There are quite a few Morgenbesser anecdotes like this that float around philosophy departments in the U.S.


Posted outside every linguistics professor’s door next to their office hours. Then everyone clapped.