An example of this is the statement: “In this way, there will be no delays or cost overruns.” Rather than leaving the reader with a sense of confidence that the project will be done on time and to budget, in this case, the lingering thought in the readers’ mind would likely be “delays” and “overruns”.
Another favorite example of mine is what a certain politician who found himself in trouble kept repeating. He said, “I did not have relations with that woman.” Unfortunately for him, the thought this leaves is “relations with that woman”. Not what he was hoping for. Had he instead said, “I have always been faithful to my wife,” the lingering thought would be “faithful.” (He’d have still been lying, but at least he wouldn’t have made matters worse.)
I recently saw an ad for a ski area and it caught my eye for having an unintentional negative. The ad read, “Sorry, I’m out of the office. I’ve gone to <name of skiing area>.”
The lingering word in my mind when thinking about this particular ski area was “Sorry”. I’m certain that is not what the area intended the ad to convey. Better wording might have been, “I’ll be skiing at <name of ski area> today. Please leave a message.”
Posted by BJ