"badly miscalculated" — double negatives?
I was taught that one should never use double negatives. But I was also taught that if you do, it can have the opposite meaning.
Example: The box does not contain nothing.
means: The box contains something.
So I heard the President’s speech. Note that he was not the first person to say it because I have also heard several newsmen use a similar expression. When I heard it, it sounded wrong. But I could NOT put my finger on why it sounded wrong. Then suddenly it occurred to me, a double negative!
So here is what I heard...
“Putin badly miscalculated.” or
“He badly miscalculated.”
Since bad is the negative of good and the prefix “mis” makes calculated negative, isn’t this a double negative? I know what they mean. Shouldn’t this sentence be written like so?
“He severely miscalculated.”
Since severe is neither negative nor positive. It just indicates the degree of something.