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Usage of Unlike.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by shiness, Nov 18, 2006.

  1. shiness Senior Member

    Korean, South Korea.
    The group said Iraqis have the right to ask whether crimes being committed today are not unlike the crimes under the Saddam Hussein regime.



    Hello there.

    I read a web news article and found the use of two negatives in a single sentence. That is; NOT and UNLIKE which often I believe twists indication in a sentence.

    Does it make sense to take the author's view as "right to ask if crimes today are like the old ones under Hessein's"? Because I see two negatives in there, I'm not really sure of my understanding.

    If it were written otherwise, such as "they got the right to ask If crimes today are DIFFERENT than old days under Hessein's." or "crimes today are not like old day's", I would be straight-forward to its indication.

    What do you think about this?

    I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    "Unlike" means "dissimilar" (not alike) so "not unlike" means "not dissimilar" ("not/not alike"). The writer could have used the phrase "...being committed today are similar to the crimes..." or "...being committed today are like the crimes..." but "not unlike" is a fairly common phrase in professional writing.
     
  3. Well, I am possibly getting rather muddled but I would presume the opposite was the initial idea: The group said Iraqis have the right to ask whether crimes being committed today are not like(similar) the crimes under the Saddam Hussein regime.
    But I may be getting something wrong. Otherwise, Dimcl`s explanation is fairly thorough. You can also use this word with meaning of "contrary": Unlike Symon, James doesn`t do this or that..... (suggesting, Symon does).
     

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