Update: "yeah, yeah" story

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Mark O. Webb

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Dec 8, 2000, 3:17:47 PM12/8/00
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For those of you who have been wondering about the Sydney Morgenbesser
"yeah, yeah"
story (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see below), I have a
minimal update.

I've received a few questions recently about people wondering if
Morgenbesser ever confirmed
or denied the story. He never got back to me, but I heard from someone
who knows him that
he does confirm it, but he is sick of hearing about it. Apparently
he's well known for that
story, and is irritated that more people know him for his flip "yeah,
yeah" than for his real
philosophical work. So I'm not going to press for more response.
Sorry. Anybody who doesn't
mind irritating a old man is, of course, free to pursue it.

Story follows:


NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Aug 14, 1977, p.46

...At a rarefied seminar in England, a philosopher of language once
presented a
formal lecture in which he announced that a double negative is known
to mean a negative in some languages and a positive in others but that
no
natural language had yet been discovered in which a double positive
means a
negative. Whereupon professor Sydney Morgenbesser is said to have piped
up from the back of the room with an instant, sarcastic, "Yeah, yeah."
This convulsed the audience in laughter and put a blot on the speaker's
career.
(He would suffer afterward from the philosophical equivalent of the
Ralph Branca syndrome.)
***********************************************************************
Mark Owen Webb "When King and Kirk sit down to sup, wha
Philosophy Department needs the longer spoon?"
Texas Tech University ---Brian McNiell
Lubbock, TX 79409-3092
(806) 742-3092


Mark O. Webb

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Dec 8, 2000, 3:19:10 PM12/8/00
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I apologize for the messed up formatting of the previous. It won't
happen again.

Ken Nicolson

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Dec 8, 2000, 8:24:31 PM12/8/00
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On Fri, 08 Dec 2000 14:17:47 -0600, "Mark O. Webb" <mow...@ttu.edu>
wrote:

>For those of you who have been wondering about the Sydney Morgenbesser
>"yeah, yeah"
>story (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see below), I have a
>minimal update.
>
>I've received a few questions recently about people wondering if
>Morgenbesser ever confirmed
>or denied the story. He never got back to me, but I heard from someone
>who knows him that
>he does confirm it, but he is sick of hearing about it. Apparently
>he's well known for that
>story, and is irritated that more people know him for his flip "yeah,
>yeah" than for his real
>philosophical work. So I'm not going to press for more response.
>Sorry. Anybody who doesn't
>mind irritating a old man is, of course, free to pursue it.

Actually, about two or three months ago there was a humourous story in
the Herald's Diary Page ( http://www.theherald.co.uk/ - no archive)
about a Scottish guy (unnamed, IIRC, just a heckler in the back) who
replied to the statement with:

"Aye, right."

Ken

Kevin D. Quitt

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Dec 9, 2000, 1:27:00 AM12/9/00
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Reminiscent of the joke about the lecturer who claimed that "sugar" is the only
word in English where "su" is pronounced "shu". Voice from the back says "Are
you sure?"

--
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Kevin D Quitt USA 91351-4454 96.37% of all statistics are made up
Per the FCA, this email address may not be added to any commercial list

Boron Elgar

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Dec 9, 2000, 2:08:03 AM12/9/00
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On Fri, 08 Dec 2000 14:17:47 -0600, "Mark O. Webb" <mow...@ttu.edu>
wrote:

>For those of you who have been wondering about the Sydney Morgenbesser


>"yeah, yeah"
>story (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see below), I have a
>minimal update.
>
>I've received a few questions recently about people wondering if
>Morgenbesser ever confirmed
>or denied the story. He never got back to me, but I heard from someone
>who knows him that
>he does confirm it, but he is sick of hearing about it. Apparently
>he's well known for that
>story, and is irritated that more people know him for his flip "yeah,
>yeah" than for his real
>philosophical work. So I'm not going to press for more response.
>Sorry. Anybody who doesn't
>mind irritating a old man is, of course, free to pursue it.
>

My ex, also a philosophy prof, and among the NYC circle at that time,
re-confirms the story with a phone call tonight and I, myself,
remember when it happened. It ran like wildfire through that
close-knit community at the time.

Comments about it (though not direct verification of the episode) are
made in the site below, but you have to wade a bit.

http://lists.village.virginia.edu/lists_archive/Humanist/v03/0797.html

Boron


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