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"Could care less"

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"Could care less"

Postby jase on Sat Apr 26, 2003 11:41 pm

Much is made of the differences between US and British English, which increasingly are becoming different dialects with all kinds of differences cropping up all the time. I know when I wrote a review for this site, there was a lot of debate about little slang terms I'd used which were rejected by Ian's SO which were then replaced and augmented with bits of US slang which I wasn't keen on and so on :lol:

I've noticed one in particular though which has become almost a pet-hate of mine; "could care less".

ie. "I could care less what drive LiteOn come up with next".

This implies that the person making the statement cares a little (or maybe even a lot) about the subject. This makes it a bit of a non-statement doesn't it? Especially as we in the UK would say

"I could not care less what drive LiteOn come up with next"

Which implies that the person does not care at all, in other words is completely indifferent. Surely logic dictates that is the more "correct" thing to say?

Or am I missing some detail here which will bring the whole thing into focus?
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Postby cfitz on Sun Apr 27, 2003 12:00 am

You aren't missing anything. "I could care less" is quite simply incorrect usage in almost every instance. People say it when they mean to state that they do not care at all about some issue. But, as you rightly point out, the actual meaning of the phrase is quite the opposite of the speakers' intent.

I'm a native speaker of American English, but I've also been baffled as to why so many Americans use the phrase. I guess it is just a set phrase, and people don't think about the true meaning of the words they are speaking. How it got that way, I don't have any idea. Maybe we are in too much of hurry to waste our time enunciating the extra syllable. :wink:

I tried on a few occasions to point out the error of this statement, but I generally received blank stares in return. Either that or an increasingly hostile exchange that went something like this:

speaker: "I could care less!"
me: "Oh, then you are concerned about this matter?"
speaker: "No, I just said I could care less."
me: "Exactly - so you must care about it to some degree."
speaker: "Why aren't you listening to me? How many times do I have to tell you that I could care less?!?"

It is quite pointless to fight it, as it just annoys the speaker. Besides, the intended meaning of the phrase is well understood. It's common usage, even if it is nonsensical usage.

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Postby jase on Sun Apr 27, 2003 12:23 am

Fair enough, thanks for clearing that one up for me ;)

It is just pure laziness on the part of those who make the mistake. I get incredibly irritated by the misuse of there/they're/their in written English as well -- far too many Brits (and not so many Americans -- superior teaching perhaps) get them mixed up and it makes me climb the walls sometimes :evil:

To be fair though, I did notice on reading my original post again the number of times I wrote the word "which", in some cases breaking the flow of the sentence (a failing of mine, I'll admit), so it shows none of us are perfect....
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Postby cfitz on Sun Apr 27, 2003 12:44 am

There are actually some posts about this on the Internet, some with at least a little authority (cerainly more authority than I have):

http://www.m-w.com/mw/textonly/wftw/97oct/101497.htm
http://murray.newcastle.edu.au/users/st ... l#disputes (scroll down a bit)

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

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Postby Turkeyscore.com on Sun Apr 27, 2003 2:05 am

wow, i was just recently thinking the same thing. That is a very annoying phrase and i am gonna try to stop that....We should work on that and try to get everybody we know to change that...
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Postby jase on Sun Apr 27, 2003 8:45 am

What a great site that second one is cfitz!! :)

"I turned my life around 360 degrees"

Is another one which has always confused me as well -- makes no sense whatsoever.

Oh, and the use of "you and I" even when the "I" is incorrect. We're told from an early age not to say things like "Martin and me are going to the park" so we end up saying stupid things like "will you get Sarah and I a beer from the fridge?".....

I really do wish people would think about what they are saying!!!
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Postby CDRecorder on Sun Apr 27, 2003 9:30 am

As an American, I have also been baffled by the phrase "I could care less" which appears to mean exactly opposite of what the speaker is trying to say. Thanks for clearing it up, everyone! :D
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Postby ChrisX on Tue May 20, 2003 10:41 pm

I am interested on the subject of American English, English English and Australian English. The phrase "couldn't care less" is the correct spelling and I think this is from the UK. No such thing as "could care less" which is wrong.

There are differences of the English language in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. My Australian English is a mixed of both US and UK with the additional of our own English.

We use this phrase here: "I couldn't care less". Means this: "I don't care". There is a song, "But you don't care" by an Australian rock band many years ago. I don't think I'll tell you the name of the band as you Americans wouldn't know them.

Do you know Robbie Williams from the UK? I bet you don't!

This morning I was messaging someone here in this forum, he is an American and I forgot the spelling of "neighborhood" and this the way it is spell here in Australia as "neighbourhood". Is is with the "u".

In American, you call "sidewalk", we call in Australia, "footpath". The list goes on and on for variations of English everywhere around the world.

Anyway, I've been in the US several times and I know New York City very well.
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Postby jase on Wed May 21, 2003 3:53 pm

In American, you call "sidewalk", we call in Australia, "footpath". The list goes on and on for variations of English everywhere around the world.


... and in the UK it's "pavement". Footpaths are those paths not on the side of a road, if you see what I mean. Can't we agree on anything? lol
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Postby TheWizard on Thu May 22, 2003 10:51 am

"Bonnet" is another word that means something completely different in the UK than in the US.

Personally, I like the word "lorry", among others. Occasionally when I'm talking to my American friends I'll throw a British word into the conversation such as "lorry" and it really catches them off-guard!

You know what else is cool? Using (Old?) English terms such as:

Henceforth
Forthright
Insofar

Now I'm drawing a blank...give me some time to think of more words from the Middle Ages.
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Postby jase on Thu May 22, 2003 3:47 pm

I use the word insofar quite often!! :D
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Postby CDRecorder on Thu May 22, 2003 8:30 pm

TheWizard wrote:"Bonnet" is another word that means something completely different in the UK than in the US.

Personally, I like the word "lorry", among others. Occasionally when I'm talking to my American friends I'll throw a British word into the conversation such as "lorry" and it really catches them off-guard!

You know what else is cool? Using (Old?) English terms such as:

Henceforth
Forthright
Insofar

Now I'm drawing a blank...give me some time to think of more words from the Middle Ages.


What do "bonnet" and "insofar" mean in the UK?
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Postby jase on Fri May 23, 2003 9:01 am

Bonnet : I think it's called the "hood" in the US, refers to the engine lid at the front of a car. Likewise, what you call the "trunk" at the back we call the "boot". On a rear-engined car like an old VW Beetle (Bug!) we still call the front lid the bonnet though. We don't have a specific word for the tailgate; on a hatchback car it would be called the hatch but on saloon cars (sedans in the States) we just call it the bootlid. I think the use of the word "tailgate" is becoming more common though. We also call stationwagons, "estate" cars. Confused yet? lol

Insofar : "to the extent that". Actually the correct term to use instead of "As far [as]" in most cases. "As far as I can tell" is a corruption of "Insofar as I can tell" since one would say "As far as I can see" which is perfectly valid, however of course you can't tell near or far, it makes no sense. But because it works for "as far as I can see", and "Insofar" sounds like "as far", the incorrect usage has become part of the language on both sides of the Atlantic. It doesn't make it right, though!

Here's another little Americanism I've noticed which is puzzling: "Most all", as in "most all Japanese CDRs are well-manufactured". Is this an abbreviation of "almost all" which we in the UK would say? Most all doesn't seem to really mean anything.
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Postby CDRecorder on Fri May 23, 2003 11:10 am

Yes, the engine lid on the front of the car is known as the "hood" in the U.S.

I think you're right about "most all" being an abbreviation of "almost all". "Most all" really doesn't seem to make much sense, now that I think about it.
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Postby TheWizard on Sat May 24, 2003 4:11 am

jase wrote:Bonnet : I think it's called the "hood" in the US, refers to the engine lid at the front of a car. Likewise, what you call the "trunk" at the back we call the "boot". On a rear-engined car like an old VW Beetle (Bug!) we still call the front lid the bonnet though. We don't have a specific word for the tailgate; on a hatchback car it would be called the hatch but on saloon cars (sedans in the States) we just call it the bootlid. I think the use of the word "tailgate" is becoming more common though. We also call stationwagons, "estate" cars. Confused yet? lol


I hope we're not having a pop quiz on this. Bonnet and boot I can remember, but when you start talking about saloon and estate cars you lose me. :P
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Postby Turkeyscore.com on Tue May 27, 2003 10:21 pm

I was looking at rules for a drawing at a Canadian Mall and it said something like: "...Must be a B.C. resident of average age to be eligible..."

What does "average age" mean?
Last edited by Turkeyscore.com on Tue May 27, 2003 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ChrisX on Wed May 28, 2003 2:11 am

Turkeyscore.com wrote:I was looking at rules for a drawing at a Canadian Mall and it said something like: "...Must be a B.C. resident of average age to be eligible..."

What does "average age" mean?


No one knows what age? It's non specific and this could mean 18 years of age or could be 21 years old. We don't use the word, "average" and this could mean the smallness, the minimum age to be eligible in the draw.

I think this referring to the legal minimum age in that providence.

Generally in Australia it is 18 years of age, except for the age of consent is 16.
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Postby Reg-da-Ripper on Thu Jun 12, 2003 10:18 am

jase wrote:...I get incredibly irritated by the misuse of there/they're/their in written English as well...


Then the misuse of "your" and "you're" must drive you insane! :D :D :D :D

Just kidding. I agree with most of the comments in this thread about the misuse (or abuse, if you will) of certain words and phrases in the English language. ;)

All violators should be "smacked upside the head!" (pardon my poor grammar). ;)

Would anyone like to take a stab at interpreting what my co-worker wrote below:
All,

We received more alerts on CPU, Memory, Drives, and Event Log errors at around 8:00am EST on [server name deleted] that up to a point I wasn’t be able to either TS or Console into the server anymore. So then I contacted DBA on-call, [name deleted], and got the OK to reboot the server and everything seems fine after it came back up again.


Anyone? :D :D :D

Note: "TS" refers to Windows 2000 terminal services (if you want to know what this is, send a private message to me).
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Postby CDRecorder on Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:04 am

Reg-da-Ripper wrote:
jase wrote:...I get incredibly irritated by the misuse of there/they're/their in written English as well...


Then the misuse of "your" and "you're" must drive you insane! :D :D :D :D


They drive me insane too!

Reg-da-Ripper wrote:
All,

We received more alerts on CPU, Memory, Drives, and Event Log errors at around 8:00am EST on [server name deleted] that up to a point I wasn’t be able to either TS or Console into the server anymore. So then I contacted DBA on-call, [name deleted], and got the OK to reboot the server and everything seems fine after it came back up again.


Wow, that is rather poor grammar.
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Postby Spazmogen on Fri Jun 27, 2003 8:00 am

My personal favorite: 'irregardless'. It's not even a word.

It appears in my dictionary, but only as a common modern word. Even the dictionary says due to the double negative, it's not a word.


Oh, and Ebonics (or EUbonics for those in EUrope). :wink: And my spelling error of it about a year ago.

Ebonics is simply the most revolting thing to come out of the USA. Even worse than RAP music or Madonna.
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Postby Inertia on Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:29 pm

Heretofore and notwithstanding contrary negativism, irregardless of what the dictionary says, I couldn't not care less. :P :P
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Postby MediumRare on Fri Jun 27, 2003 5:32 pm

Neither do I too already yet.

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Postby Bhairav on Sat Jun 28, 2003 8:50 am

You guys think that this is bad? Man, you should come to India and experience the murder of the English language here. Most people can make themselves understood rather well, albeit with usage such as: "Hey, kya yaar, doing TP today", which is a mixture of Hindi, English and a colloquialism, in TP, which means TimePass! (ie nothing much, just passing the time!)
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