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“No, Totally” Means Yes?

Not long ago, I walked into a friend’s kitchen and found her opening one of those evil, impossible-to-breach plastic blister packages with a can opener. This worked, and struck me as brilliant, but I mention it only to illustrate a characteristic that I admire in our species: given almost any entity, we will find a way to use it for something other than its intended purpose. We commandeer cafeteria trays to go sledding, “The Power Broker” to prop open the door, the Internet to look at kittens. We do this with words as well—time was, spam was just Spam—but, lately, we have gone in for a particularly dramatic appropriation. In certain situations, it seems, we have started using “no” to mean “yes.”

Here’s Lena Dunham demonstrating this development, during a conversation with the comedian Marc Maron on his podcast “WTF.” The two are talking about people who reflexively disparage modern art:

via What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand? – The New Yorker.

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