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Subject: To say nothing of, not to mention, etc.
Question: 1. Book Title: Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

2. She's overweight, not to mention her high blood pressure.

I know these are idioms of sorts but is there a linguistic term for
these phrases that say something not to be said. Is this sarcasm?

I give up.

I would love an answer.

Thank you,

Kathryn Klein

Reply: Hi, Kathryn,

Well, they're not quite sarcasm nor ironic, though they could be
used in both of these ways. Note also that you could add to your
second example:

I'm not going to mention that she's overweight, not ...

which is (sort of) lying, apart from the other things you
mention. (Not quite lying, because I *am* mentioning it, not
doing so in the future.) Anyway, these are some of the lnguistic
tricks we use to sneak in mentions of things while we deny doing
so. Such arguments, however, are not likely to help us much if we
get sued in court. Even real exculpatory arguments along these
lines do not always work in court, by the way. See the recent
books by Roger W. Shuy (google him or go to Amazon and look him
up, maybe adding 'forensic linguistics' to your search).

Hope this helps some.


James L. Fidelholtz
Graduate Program in Language Sciences
Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades
Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO

Reply From: James L Fidelholtz      click here to access email
Date: 29-Nov-2012

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