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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Could N'T care less

I was just enjoying the book "A rising thunder" by David Weber when I came across the phrase "I could care less" (page 448 of the BAEN hardback), meaning in its context: "I could not care less" i.e. there is no lesser degree of care that I could hold. 

I would have thought that even though the phrase may be common usage in the U.S. an author would add the correct phrase. This just jars.

6 comments:

  1. Item 2 here: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=I%20could%20care%20less sums it up. I know its an old issue.

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  2. Magic. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2010/may/20/language-usa

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  3. I found this also: http://articles.boston.com/2010-10-24/lifestyle/29303907_1_care-peeves-decades

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  4. I disagree. Many colloquial English phrases are sarcastic, and this is one of them. The phrase “I could care less” makes perfect sense if said, as it usually is, with a sarcastic tone and a roll of the eyes. In fact its sarcasm is often pointed out by preceding it with: “Oh, yeah, like I COULD CARE LESS.” The speaker is saying, “how ridiculous it is that you think that I could care any less than I already do!” And so, just like they would say, “Oh, yeah, I really LOVE Windows” or “Oracle cares SO MUCH about Open Source,” they say, “Oh, yeah, I could CARE LESS” when of course really they can't.

    I am not sure why all of these tone-deaf guides to English assume that the common, sarcastic version of a phrase cannot appear in print, and insist on the dead-literal unusual version of the phrase instead.

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  5. Hi Brandon, although I'll grant that there may well be a sarcastic meaning, but it is not used sarcastically - just explained as such by its apologists when the more aware point out how stupid it is logically. As a rearguard action the explanation may save some face but doesn't fool anyone - including those who use the explanation.

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  6. Thanks Shawn. I had read that article and liked its examples of other, older "pet peeves".

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