Ass-backwards

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Dave Keenan
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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".

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cmloegcmluin
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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.

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Dave Keenan
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Re: Ass-backwards

Post by Dave Keenan »

cmloegcmluin wrote: Fri May 29, 2020 2:44 am There's a joke in here somewhere about the horse leading the carriage but it being a beast-of-burden-type ass.
The expression is "Don't put the cart before the horse". So ...

Don't put the fart before the ass.

or

Don't put the ass before the force.

or

Don't put the ass before the feet.

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