14 jul. 2004

Language Log: Negation by Association

"He was the best teacher I ever had, he really gave a damn."

"The Vice-President gives a damn about the American people: all he really cares about is Halliburton."

The phrase "give a damn" means the opposite thing in these two sentences, quite mysteriously, although Mark Liberman is trying to clear up such mysteries over at Language Log.

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