Ass-backwards

Introductions, chit chat and off-topic banter.
Post Reply
User avatar
Dave Keenan
Site Admin
Posts: 1071
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:59 pm
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Contact:

Ass-backwards

Post by Dave Keenan »

@cmloegcmluin's use of this term here, prompts the following digression.

"Ass-backwards", or "arse-backwards" in the British/Australian spelling which disallows the cop-out claim that you were referring to a beast of burden, is clearly the normal state of affairs. Were I not to proceed with my arse facing in the direction from which I have come, I would probably fall over a lot more than I do.

But in fact, this is a linguistic example where two negatives do not make a positive, as logic would have it, but somehow make a stronger negative. Perhaps it can be understood as a contraction of the phrase "arse-about and backwards" whose redundancy serves as emphasis.

This reminds me of the joke about the linguistics professor giving a lecture where he claims that, in natural languages, one can find examples of two negatives making a positive, two negatives making a negative, and of course two positives making a positive. "But", he says, "you will never find two positives making a negative".

As he pauses to let this sink in, some smart-aleck at the back of the lecture hall, calls out in his most sarcastic tone, "Yeah, right".

And Slavoj Zizek's cafe, where the customer asks, "Please bring me a coffee without cream?" Some minutes later the waiter returns and says, "I'm sorry, we don't have any cream. Could I get you a coffee without milk instead".

User avatar
cmloegcmluin
Site Admin
Posts: 770
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:10 pm
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Real Name: Douglas Blumeyer
Contact:

Re: Ass-backwards

Post by cmloegcmluin »

Wow. I never thought about it this way. I'd never had a problem with the phrase before. You've caused me to realize that I'd always interpreted "ass-backwards" as "you've got just the ass part of yourself on backwards".

There's a joke in here somewhere about the horse leading the carriage but it being a beast-of-burden-type ass.

Post Reply