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But more than any specific piece, I love the feeling Gaultier collections (both RTW and HC) convey. They’re always lighthearted, upbeat and joyous. Whether or not one actually likes or dislikes the collection, the infectious joie de vivre of Gaultier work is undeniable.
(The New York Times)

Yes, language is not logic, but I'm wondering if it is okay English to say "Whether or not one actually likes or dislikes the collection"? What is the reason to add "or dislikes' after 'likes' in that construction governed by "Whether or not"? Emphasis?

Can anybody explain?

  • 1
    I don't think it's very good style, but presumably the writer is trying to take in whether one likes it or not and whether one dislikes it or not. That's four permutations, of which one (liking and disliking) is meaningless. But the writer probably wanted to make sure he covered the third possibility (you neither like nor dislike it), which is what led him to this somewhat clumsy phrasing. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 14 '13 at 22:16
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    It is probably maybe superfluously redundant. But there's an outside chance the author means "Even if you're perfectly neutral and don't actually either like or dislike it, the infectious joie de vivre &c." I don't believe it for a minute, or even less. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 14 '13 at 22:16
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    @StoneyB: I don't think it's quite "superfluous", as per the line put forward by Matt. It just looks somewhat awkward. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 14 '13 at 22:18
  • @snailplane: I don't think "actually" helps much, but with an "amplifying" adverb such as "strongly" or "particularly", the sentence would have a clear meaning somewhat akin to "whether one is opinionated or ambivalent". – supercat Aug 26 '14 at 17:26
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Adding both possibilities makes the sentence sound more neutral.

For example in the following sentence:

This is an expensive painting, whether or not you like it.

the whether or not you like it sounds almost passive aggressive challenge to those who don't like the painting, saying that it is expensive even though you might not like it.

In contrast, the following sentence:

This is an expensive painting, whether or not you like or dislike it

Comes across as much more matter of fact. The painting is expensive, and the fact that it is expensive is independent of you liking it or not.

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  • What about, "Whether you like it or dislike it, this is an expensive painting." Whether you like that alternative or not, that might be how I'd say it. – J.R. Mar 15 '13 at 0:26
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    @J.R. That's how I'd say it too, but the OP's question was about "whether or not" followed by two alternative words. – Matt Mar 15 '13 at 0:28
  • Maybe we both agree with FF's assessment, then, that it's poor style? But I'm not sure the non-native reading your answer would come away with that conclusion, which is why I left my comment. – J.R. Mar 15 '13 at 0:30
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There is no good reason to add “or dislikes” after likes in that sentence. Any of the following forms is better:

Whether one likes or dislikes the collection, ...

Whether one actually likes the collection or not, ...

Whether or not one actually likes the collection, ...

Even if one doesn't like the collection, ...

I listed those in descending order of preference. “Or not” always strikes me as redundant directly following whether but in this case “Whether one actually likes the collection, the ...” doesn't work properly and isn't a serious possibility.

Edit: FumbleFingers suggested “the writer probably wanted to make sure he [1] covered the third possibility (you neither like nor dislike it)”. I'm inclined to doubt that that was a concern, because if it had been, the writer could have written “No matter what one's opinion about the collection” or “No matter if you find the collection good, bad, or indifferent” etc. instead of a phrase in which the “no opinion” possibility is so obscure.

[1] Note, the article (Paris Arabesque, NYT 28 Jan 2009) is by Cathy Horyn; the quoted passage is from a comment by “Chase”

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0

Generally speaking it's best to express your idea in the least number of words possible. The clause "Whether or not one actually likes or dislikes the collection, ..." is not only redundant but also wordy. Generally speaking "whether or not" is redundant. I also fail to see the point of the word actually. I recommend one of the following clauses:

Even if one dislikes the collection, ... Regardless whether one likes the collection, ... Whether one likes or dislikes the collection, ...

My personal preference is the second clause. It's shorter than the 3rd option and better conveys the intended meaning than does the first clause.

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  • Regardless whether one likes the collection is not a well-formed clause, so I wonder: why it is your personal preference? – jimsug May 17 '14 at 5:16

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