Posted by Jay Livingston
The Financial Times wants me to tweet this quote from Martin Wolf, “widely considered to be one of the world's most influential writers on economics” (Wikipedia).
|It is impossible to believe that the government cannot find investments . . . that do not earn more than the real cost of funds. If that were not true, the UK would be finished.|
The first sentence has three negatives. The next sentence not only has another negative, but it throws in a mysterious pronoun – that. If you can figure out what that is referring to, you’re a better reader than I am.
I have posted before (here most recently) about the confusion of negatives that carom about, reversing and re-reversing the direction of the sentence. Yet here we have one of the word’s most influential writers tossing one negative on top of another, and another. Personally, I find it impossible not to believe that writers can’t learn not to avoid simplifying their prose by using positive constructions.