Ran across one of those posts today that leaves you scratching your head. In addition to being in all caps106, it had at least two word phrases that left me completely bewildered.One was: “I HAVE GOT TO FIND THIS CAT A BETTER HOME! HE REALLY NEEDS TO BE AN INSIDE CAT AND IF I DIDN’T CARE SO DANG MUCH ABOUT HIM I WOULDN’T BE GIVING HIM AWAY!“Could you please repeat that, this time so it makes sense? This followed up an explanation of why this declawed cat was left outside and was being tortured by the ducks who ate his food. Now he was now starving. His (her?) conclusion was that the cat was really having a nice situation. Then a plea to get rid of the cat.I think someone will probably take the cat, but not for any reason in the posting other than pity. Perhaps this is a ploy to have that exact effect. I have to believe if one resorts to duping the audience to get a result, something else isn’t quite right. I much prefer to live, talk, and do business on the up and up.And if this was an honest attempt gone awry, then a proofreader is a must.
Make sure the meaning and action are appropriate. Be especially careful of negating words (e.g. NOT).
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Perhaps I have been reading too much bad English for too long, or perhaps I love my cat very much, but the plea did make sense to me the first time I read it. I agree it was poorly worded, and since I do not have the rest of the post to see why it was disingenuous, I do not know if there was something else that made the initial plea confusing (although I find myself as confused as you about how the cat was having a nice situation). The double negative is not helpful, but we’ve seen it all too often.
Susan,Well put — it’s amazing how things can take on understanding of their own in the hands of the audience. Which is why we must try so hard to make our message as clear as possible. Negatives of the variety in which they compound and thus retract the meaning of one of them by having two are exactly not the thing we don’t wish to avoid. :-)Sadly, you are also correct to note we see so much bad communication, it hardly registers.A