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  1. #1
    newbees is offline Newbie
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    I can't watch this happen and not say anything.

    Hi!

    Referring to the following video,

    https://youtu.be/WoJQUd7pqNc

    About 4 minutes 40 seconds on this video, a lady says “I can't watch this happen and not say anything. But those are four 20 dollars.”

    In this context, Is she saying

    a) I can't watch this happen. I can't not say anything. But those are four 20 dollars.
    Or
    b) I can't watch this happen. I can not say anything. But those are four 20 dollars.

    If an answer is a), is the usage of “But” in this context acceptable?

    Thanks for your help in advance.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 18-Jul-2017 at 08:58. Reason: Removed unnecessary line breaks

  2. #2
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    Lynxear is offline Senior Member
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    Re: I can't watch this happen and not say anything.

    The sentence is fine as written. Do not break it up into two sentences. Also you did not transcribe the last bit properly. She said "four 20's" meaning "four 20 dollar bills" in conversational speech

    “I can't watch this happen and not say anything. But those are four 20's."

    She is watching the woman trying to steal money from a blind man and cannot believe what she is seeing (take a look at her face). She finally screws up her courage and confronts the woman. The video was just an act to see how people would react if this was a real situation. She says this sentence when questioned as to why she took this action.

    When you break up the sentence into two sentences you change the meaning completely. You would be saying that she could not watch the action when clearly she was watching what was happening. Also in the second sentence you would be saying she she would not say anything. Again this is not true as she rushed to defend the blind man after seeing the potential robbery.

    A better sentence for "But those are four 20's" would be "She is saying the bills are one dollar each but those are four 20's."

    This is conversational English and it is not necessarily grammatical.

  3. #3
    newbees is offline Newbie
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    Re: I can't watch this happen and not say anything.

    Many thanks for your prompt reply.

    Well noted I should not break the sentence. it would be interpreted as

    a) I can't bear watching this happen and am lost for words. But those are four 20's.

    or

    b) I can't bear watching this happen and (can't) not say anything. But those are four 20's


    Which one is properly spelled out the meaning?

    P.S. Double Negative means positive in this context.


    THANKS

  4. #4
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    Lynxear is offline Senior Member
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    Re: I can't watch this happen and not say anything.

    You are playing with the sentence but not improving it.

    “I can't watch this happen and not say anything. But those are four 20's."

    Sentence "a' does not make much sense the way you wrote it. She is not at a loss for words. In fact she becomes very vocal when she makes the decision to come to the blind man's aid.
    Sentence "b" is fine without the second "can't"


    I am not sure that you really understand what that sentence means.

    Woman is watching the situation and she is shocked at seeing the woman try to rob the blind man. Her conscience and sense of justice cannot allow her to just stand there and pretend that nothing is happening. So, she feels compelled to speak out and come to the blind man's defense.

  5. #5
    newbees is offline Newbie
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    Re: I can't watch this happen and not say anything.

    thanks again.

    What i would like to know is nuance of the second phrase.

    So that of "not say any thing"cannot be interpreted as she was lost for words for a few seconds when she saw the woman try to rob blind man. But after all she felt compelled to speak out and come to the blind man's defence.

    Instead, "not" in the second phrase negates the first phrase of "can't" saying she felt compelled to speak out and come to the blind man's defence.

    Is it correct?

  6. #6
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    jutfrank is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I can't watch this happen and not say anything.

    No. See post #2. The double negative is irrelevant.

    Another way she might have phrased it is I can't watch this happen without saying anything.

    It means 'I can't watch this happen in silence'.

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