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I've stumbled upon this sentence reading my tweeter feed this morning.

it's never important to avoid not thinking about other things than money.

I'm not a native english speaker and thus I'm having troubles understanding what's the author point of view here.

Can you help ?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com May 19 '17 at 18:08

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

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    Never probably shouldn't be there. I suspect the sentence was re-worked and the "never" is a remnant from the earlier version that wasn't deleted. As it reads now, it expresses the opposite of what I assume the author intended to express. The author's point of view is probably that it's important to avoid thinking only about money. But it is quite a mangled sentence, in any event. – MDHunter Apr 27 '17 at 13:07
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    I am a native English speaker, and I'm having troubles with it too. :) – Davo Apr 27 '17 at 13:07
  • To me the sentence means that it is unimportant (not necessary) to avoid thinking about things that aren't about money.In other words, it's not necessary to make a conscious effort to avoid thinking about money. In any case, it's a highly convoluted sentence. – Bhoomika Arora Apr 27 '17 at 13:12
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    Every time I try to parse that sentence, my head explodes. I’m currently on my seventh head, and I think I’m going to stop now, while I still have a chance of cleaning the walls. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 27 '17 at 14:43
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    This sentence is a joke. It contains 4 negatives (never, not, avoid, and other) in various relationships with the relevant words in the sentence. It's impossible for native speakers to understand, and whatever the author might have had in mind is an exercise for the imagination. The technical term for phenomena like this is Misnegation, and there is a long and entertaining literature about them on Language Log. – John Lawler Apr 27 '17 at 15:05
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"Not thinking about other things than money."

is the same as 'thinking only of money.'

Not just having some thoughts about money, but thinking exclusively about money is the key idea.

MDHunter has analysed the sentence correctly and shows genuine humanity by hoping the author meant to say:

'It's important to avoid' [thinking only of money]

I'm more cynical; I think there are people who think and talk and even sing:

Money, money, money, money....

and if any one tried to stop you thinking about only money, these people might easily tell you to be resolute by saying "It's never important to do anything else":

It's never important to avoid not thinking about other things than money.

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