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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ain't Nothing Like a Dame

To return to the subject of song lyrics, I must admit that I am fascinated by the way the use of the double negative always sounds so much rockier, so much cooler and - dare I say it? - younger than the 'correct' English. Picture if you will Tina Tuner in her tiny leather mini-skirt and patent high heels singing about how there isn't any mountain high enough to keep her from her beloved. Or Mick Jagger telling us how he can't get any satisfaction. It just won't do.
Perhaps it's something to do with the fact that the word 'any', which would make the statement grammatically correct, has two syllables and would ruin the scansion or rhythm of the line. 'We don't need any education' for example, simply wouldn't fit the music, even though the poor grammar does suggest that a bit of education wouldn't go amiss!
The double negative is the screenwriter's way of telling us that somebody is working class, a villain (I ain't done nothing, honest!) or ill-educated. It places the speaker in society straight away: an immediate pointer to their background. Unless of course they write pop songs, in which case Public schoolboys and University graduates take to it naturally, for reasons of their own.

1 comment:

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