Monday, September 04, 2006

I dunt no no inglish

Since when has it been okay to use a double negative in this country? For instance, take this sentence, "I have not not gone shopping." Technically, it is grammatically correct. I suppose. It's awkward, obviously, but the two 'nots' essentially cancel each other out and you wind up with the meaning, "I have gone shopping." More or less.

Apparently, geeks with GPSes never learned this fact, because I constantly see coordinates written like this: "The latitude of Cumberland is 43.756N and the longitude is -70.189W."

It's that -70.189W that really bugs me. What is it? -70.189 degrees, or 70.189W? You can't have both. Well, technically, it's possible, but -70.189W actually means 70.189 east, which is clearly not what they meant to write since it would put Cumberland, Maine (a real city, btw, which I use as an example since it's the latest one to have bugged me) somewhere in Siberia, I suspect.

Think of it like this. Start at the prime meridian. Face west. Then walk precisely -70.189 degrees. That negative means you'd have to walk backwards and be walking a complete 180 degrees in the wrong direction!

So please, unless you live in Latin America (where two negatives actually IS a negative), use either a negative sign or the letter for W, but never use both at once. You just look like an idiot when you do that.

-- Ryan, who's currently located in Seattle not far from 47.57N and 122.39W, but will probably never be found at 47.57N and -122.39W (which would put me not far from Qiqihar, China)

1 comment:

W&MGrad said...

Um, I think my brain hurts....