Saturday, May 26, 2007

No Little Problem

Back in the day, I used to be mocked quite fiercely on the Middle School track team (no really, that's an entirely different post). I couldn't sprint worth a spit, but I ran a pretty decent 8-80 (read came in third a couple of times). One day, the track coach was out sick and her assistant coach made a roster with me on a sprint race. I told her flatly I couldn't/wouldn't do it and I told her who should be running in my place. The girl I suggested was relieved to switch places with me, saying, "At least you know you don't belong in a sprint."

I replied, "I'm not that unintelligent".

Cocking her head to one side, she rejoined, "You know, I never would have said that. I would have said, 'I'm not that stupid'."

Enter, Litotes (Pronounced Lay TOTE Tees) a rhetorical device I have been fond of since I was a wee sprout that emphasizes a word by negating its opposite. If you look it up in a dictionary you might find something like this:

that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary

Ugh. I can hardly read that. Just remember its mnemonic above. A litotes is no little problem.

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