Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Never" Versus "Did Not" in Analysis


Bing the color blind dog.  


In the recent articles on "He Said; She Said", I analyzed both statements and found the male who claimed "Racist!" on the part of the female was lying, and that the female's account was, linguistically, true.  

There was only one indicator of sensitivity in her account.  He had accused her of racial profiling (he was projecting his own self, as he racially profiled her) and accused her of acting out this racism by calling police on him because he was black. 

She didn't. 

She did not call police, her black roommate did, whom had called police because the male was aggressive and frightening.  The denial was "reliable", making it 90% likely to be true.  In the next breath, she denied identifying him by race but quickly changed from "didn't" call 911, to "never" mentioned race.  

I concluded that it was "unreliable" because, statistically in Statement Analysis, this is true. 
But, as an analyst, I also concluded that it was likely not truthful, though maybe she did not technically mention his race, but that it was understood, through some means, between the subject and her black roommate.  This is what caused the language to change from "didn't" to "never" in the same quote.  

A pair of good comments were left challenging this, and I believe it useful to look at these comments and address them as they present an opportunity to not only affirm principle, but to view, with healthy scientific skepticism, the application of the principles, and explain why I made my conclusion.  

There are two comments, both from the same person.  I changed the name:  

The commentator  said...
"Surely in some cases "I never" is equivalent to "I did not" -- particularly if the thing was assumed or expected.

E.g., you were expected to go to the hockey game. Next day, someone asks you about your evening at the hockey rink. You say, "I never went to the game".

On the other hand, if you were supposed to be working last night, and someone says, "I saw you at the hockey game", your response would be "I did not go to the hockey game".

So, I never went vs. I did not go. To my ear, both are truthful and reliable depending on the context."


First:  Thank you to the commentator for giving me food for thought, and food to share with others, by that which you assert.  I did not use your name because you have not responded to my request to do so.  It is an intelligent comment.  

The  commentator said...
"In the case at hand, if the writer had been directly accused of referring to the man's race, then an appropriate response would be, "I did not refer to his race". However, when there is an assumption in the air that at some indeterminate point of time she referred to his race, then an appropriate response would be, "I never referred to his race". Whereas "I did not" refers to a particular point in time or place, "I never" is broader and broadly covers the duration of the time and/or place."

6 comments:

BallBounces said...

I respect and appreciate your analysis, as always.

Had I been the blonde female, and being truthful, I suspect I would have used the same did not/never distinction that she did.

Why?

The 911 call is a point of time event. There was, at a specific time, a 911 call. It was made by someone. She says, in effect, "I did not make that call". This is the language of direct denial to a specific incident. I agree that "never" sounds like an evasive gloss here.

OTOH, I would have probably said, "I never referred to him as AA or black", for two reasons. First, by using never I am covering the entire period of the event as opposed to a specific point in time; I am using "never" as a synonym for, "at no time did I…". In this usage, never is not a gloss because the entire time of the event is in view.

Second, I am not responding to a direct accusation but rather an implied accusation. "Never" sounds slightly softer than "did not" to my ear, and, in the absence of a direct accusation that I had referred to his race, it is what I would probably have said.

Is it possible that "I did not" is the proper language of direct denial, whereas "I never" is the proper language of indirect denial, i.e., disavowing something that has been implied, suggested, or assumed as opposed to a direct accusation?

Just a thought.

sidewalk super said...

OT
now we find out the white-man-hating Boston teacher, grundy, of racial studies has a felony record.
(Using her computer to sign her ex-boyfriend's new girl up for a casual dating site is what I read.)
Hm, a tad vindictive, doncha think? I wonder how she will grade her new students?

How does a big time university get itself in this stupid, dumb, obviously big trouble to come, position?

Jen Ow said...

If BU allows her to step foot on their campus, they deserve what they have coming to them! She has shown them who she is, and they should have already rescinded her job offer.

She clearly has incredibly poor judgement, and a lack of self control. (Signing up rival love interests for dating sites...what is she 13 years old?!)

I wonder if she is doing outrageous things with the purpose of getting fired before she even starts, so that she can sue the University for 'discrimination'.

Peter Hyatt said...

I wouldn't have my kids go there as long as there is a nutty racist on staff, no matter the color.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Peter. Ms. Grundy is baiting the school and kids paying tuition to really learn are the collateral victims.

Lis said...

If a person calls 911 wouldn't they be called upon to give a description of a subject and wouldn't the operator have likely asked race? If the person answered the question when asked but had not brought it up themselves, could this explain the use of "never"? (Including giving the information to the caller when asked)