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"Could Care Less" vs "Couldn't Care Less"

Spurned by a comment I made where I used the phrase "Could care less" and someone on NutCan "corrected" me by saying I should have said "couldn't care less", I found this article about the topic. Interesting. By interesting, I mean my wife is out of the state for a few weeks and I don't really know anyone within 1600 miles and I have a lot of time on my hands.
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avatar2345.jpgPackOne - Well you can get this lapdance here for free.
07/12/2008 @ 10:58:10 PM
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What a careless mistake I guess.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
07/13/2008 @ 12:06:31 AM
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It seems like there are a lot of things no wife, boredom, and an internet connection could get you, and none of them involve semantic arguments, or words.
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newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
07/13/2008 @ 11:13:23 AM
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I stick by my correction. English has enough sayings that make no sense; there's no reason to continue this one. Also I think you mean Spurred, not Spurned, unless you're advocating another "technically this is wrong but since most people say it incorrectly let's just agree to be wrong" figure of speech.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Pie Racist
07/13/2008 @ 11:38:51 AM
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Oh, snap. All of the sudden Alex is the nonsensical phrase police! Someone should start a whole nother thread for spurred vs spurned.

Really though, for all intensive purposes, everyone knows what you mean. Though anyways, I do feel that we have to move towards maintaining some standards as a society.
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Jeremy messed with this at 07/13/2008 11:39:27 am
jon.jpgJon - 1 bajillion posts
07/13/2008 @ 02:37:34 PM
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That article is ridiculous.

it states,
Mark Liberman defends the use of could care less as a "well-accepted colloquial expression in contemporary American English." Frankly, I agree with Liberman.

translation:
It's a phrase that's used so much that people don't think about it, and now it is accepted by so many as ok, so even though it means almost the exact opposite of what the speaker actually means, we'll just call it fine rather than take the minimal effort to break it down logically and notice the error and change it.
(end of translation)


By the way, I'm not taking a black-and-white stance where the language has to stay the same and can't evolve or anything like that. I don't give a crap if people dangle their participles, and I don't weep when people use "who" when "whom" is called for. But this one is a case where the idea just isn't being properly conveyed. You're actually speaking contrary to the message you're trying to give. Granted people will probably know what you're trying to say if you use "could," but then again, they'd also get the idea if you gave them a thumbs down and threw your feces at them, but I'm not going to embrace either as the "correct" way to say it. But you can decide on your own standards I guess.


People try to say "could care less" makes sense because there's sarcasm involved, but when I read their explanation of how that would work, I highly doubt this is actually what people are trying to convey. I think it's a phrase that changed due to mishearing and/or misunderstanding and, along with that, may have also degraded into something that is a little easier to say. Your mouth actually does less work making the phrase "could care" compared to "couldn't care". And I don't mean just in the way you'd pronounce them if you were giving a speech or being tested on it. I mean in an actual everyday situation, where you're probably slightly exasperated anyway, given that you're just about to tell someone how little you care about something. I feel like the two words could easily end up coming out as mostly just the two "k-sounds" from the back of your mouth. (As in "I cou-care less...") Do you follow?
So it's like: hurried speech + misunderstanding + reuse of what you hear or think you heard + few people knowing or caring about the difference = the change from "couldn't" to "could" (I'd like to use an "approximately equal to" sign there, but it I don't immediately know how and it would probably just show up as nonsensical symbols).
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/13/2008 @ 04:02:34 PM
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Speaking of which, here's another.
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jon.jpgJon - 2847 Posts
07/13/2008 @ 04:05:27 PM
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Jeremy actually purposely (purposefully?) sprinkled in a bunch of errors like that in his comment.
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scott.jpgScott - Resident Tech Support
07/13/2008 @ 04:06:37 PM
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Jon Wrote - Today @ 03:37:34 PM
I think it's a phrase that changed due to mishearing and/or misunderstanding and, along with that, may have also degraded into something that is a little easier to say.


Ok, everyone is aware of the phrase "for all intents and purposes", here's another article about language mistakes.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
07/13/2008 @ 05:55:07 PM
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Jon Wrote - Today @ 04:05:27 PM
Jeremy actually purposely (purposefully?) sprinkled in a bunch of errors like that in his comment.


But can you identify them all? Can you?!
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/13/2008 @ 06:38:20 PM
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Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 12:38:51 PM
Oh, snap. All of the sudden Alex is the nonsensical phrase police! Someone should start a whole nother thread for spurred vs spurned. Really though, for all intensive purposes, everyone knows what you mean. Though anyways, I do feel that we have to move towards maintaining some standards as a society.


"All of then sudden", "intensive purposes", "really though", "though anyways".

Up until about a year ago I actually thought it was "intensive purposes".
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
07/14/2008 @ 12:15:06 AM
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I did until my senior year in high school.

All of the sudden
a whole nother
for all intensive purposes
anyways
towards
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wendy.gifWendy
07/14/2008 @ 01:05:30 PM
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The other day, a reporter wrote in her script: "the family is having trouble making ends meat."
She's always thought it had something to do with not having enough money to buy meat products at the grocery store.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Broadcast in stunning 1080i
07/14/2008 @ 01:28:30 PM
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That's surprisingly popular, given how ridiculous it sounds. The misconcpetion has to do with the ends of cuts of meat being cheaper and crappier than the middle parts in butcher shops. So if you can't even afford to "make ends meat" for supper, times are tough. Turns out no one knows where it came from, though it's most likely a book keeping term. Oddly enough, even lots of people who know it's "meet" still say it comes from sausage production, where you want to add enough meat to make the ends of a sausage meet. (Think polish sausage.)

It's pretty interesting how many of the adages that are repeated incorrectly actually have a decent definition of their own. (I mean really, though everyone knows what it means, the origin of "making ends meet" is likely just as murky, and silly, and maybe even arbitrarily tied to being used in a budgetary sense.) This is not the case with "could care less," which means the exact opposite of what you're trying to say.

Edit: I'd actually started collecting phrases with interesting origins, or that are commonly misused, for a later blog/article. However, since we're wasting half of them here, that now seems pointless. Maybe later tonight I'll grace you with a couple I have left.
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Jeremy edited this 3 times, last at 07/14/2008 3:43:51 pm
jeremy.jpgJeremy - Robots don't say 'ye'
07/16/2008 @ 01:22:28 AM
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Haggard - Most cultures have a few mythical beings that are responsible for your nightmares. In European cultures it was an Old Hag that visited you and kept you up at night. As such if you looked tired the next day you were said to look haggard.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth - Horses' mouths are very telltale. Age, nutrition, overall health, if it had been over reined, etc can all be quickly determined by, well, hearing it straight from the horse's mouth. If someone is giving you a gift in your time of need it is uncouth to respond by pouring over its condition, rather than just being grateful. Though generally it's used when you're actively nitpicking the condition of the gift.

Hunky dory - Huncho-dori was a street in Yokohama, Japan, that was popular with American sailors on leave during W.W.I. To be in Huncho-dori was to be enjoying yourself.

Under the weather - Bad weather brings rough seas. Seasick passengers on ships typically recouperate on the lowest level of the ship, since it rocks the least.

Close but no cigar - Carnival games, usually shooting games, once gave out cigars as a prize.

Sleep tight - Before box springs , bed frames used rope pulled tightly between the frame rails to support a mattress. If the rope became loose, the mattress would sag making for uncomfortable sleeping. Tightening the ropes would help one get a good night sleep.

With a grain of salt - I find this one interesting because we essentially mean it the exact opposite way today. Salt was once very valuable due to its high demand as a food preservative and relative scarcity. It was thought to have healing properties and to be an antidote to poisons. To take (eat or drink) something "with a grain of salt" was to practice preventive medicine. One would do this if they were suspicious that the food might be poisonous or may cause illness.
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Jeremy edited this at 07/16/2008 1:24:58 am
goodlooking.jpgcraig - 131 Posts
07/20/2008 @ 12:27:44 AM
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Jeremy Wrote - 07/16/2008 @ 01:22:28 AM

Close but no cigar - Carnival games, usually shooting games, once gave out cigars as a prize.


Thankfully someone was thinking of the children, and carnivals no longer give away cigars as prizes. Irregardless, if you like this sort of thing you should check out the public radio show 'a way with words' (http://www.waywordradio.org/) they cover this sort of stuff in exhaustive detail, and, believe it or not, it's generally pretty entertaining.
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images.jpgcraig - 131 Posts
07/20/2008 @ 12:34:19 AM
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Jeremy Wrote - 07/14/2008 @ 01:28:30 PM
Edit: I'd actually started collecting phrases with interesting origins, or that are commonly misused, for a later blog/article. However, since we're wasting half of them here, that now seems pointless. Maybe later tonight I'll grace you with a couple I have left.


Rather than waste you time with antiquated sayings, how about you explain the real mystery: why ESPN is trying to cram "mixed martial arts" down our throats as if it were some sort of legitimate sporting event like curling, bowling, or roller derby? That's what keeps me up at night.
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thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - 3354 Posts
07/20/2008 @ 06:16:04 AM
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Jeremy Wrote - 07/16/2008 @ 01:22:28 AM
With a grain of salt - I find this one interesting because we essentially mean it the exact opposite way today. Salt was once very valuable due to its high demand as a food preservative and relative scarcity. It was thought to have healing properties and to be an antidote to poisons. To take (eat or drink) something "with a grain of salt" was to practice preventive medicine. One would do this if they were suspicious that the food might be poisonous or may cause illness.


I don't see how this is the "exact opposite" of how we use it today. Today, taking a statement "with a grain of salt" means that we should be a little skeptical of it. It seems to me that it is a good parallel to adding salt to food that you are suspicious of.
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scott.jpgScott - On your mark...get set...Terrible!
07/20/2008 @ 08:09:00 AM
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Matt Wrote - Today @ 07:16:04 AM
Jeremy Wrote - 07/16/2008 @ 02:22:28 AM
With a grain of salt - I find this one interesting because we essentially mean it the exact opposite way today. Salt was once very valuable due to its high demand as a food preservative and relative scarcity. It was thought to have healing properties and to be an antidote to poisons. To take (eat or drink) something "with a grain of salt" was to practice preventive medicine. One would do this if they were suspicious that the food might be poisonous or may cause illness.
I don't see how this is the "exact opposite" of how we use it today. Today, taking a statement "with a grain of salt" means that we should be a little skeptical of it. It seems to me that it is a good parallel to adding salt to food that you are suspicious of.


I was thinking the same thing before I read Matt's response.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 1.21 Gigawatts!?!?
07/20/2008 @ 10:29:34 AM
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I didn't think about it that way, I suppose that makes sense.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Broadcast in stunning 1080i
07/20/2008 @ 11:11:31 PM
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That was my 5000th post. I'd like to thank my family, my wife for never believing in me, Jesus, Brett Favre (or is that redundant), Darwin, Waylon Meyer, Jimmy Johns' security, but most of all, the rest of you, who live in my shadow, yet continue to keep plugging away here on Nutcan.
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Jeremy messed with this at 07/20/2008 11:12:28 pm
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