Aren't/Are high school rock bands a dime a dozen (worthless)?

sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
Mom: "That sounds like a pipe dream. Aren't high school rock bands a dime a dozen?"
Son: "Yeah, but we are different. With my guitar playing and Amber's beautiful voice, we are sure to make a splash!"
Source: Speak English like an American by Amy Gillett

This is a picture of the page of the book
1.jpg

Hello,
I know what "a dime a dozen" means but I have some problems with the blue part.

a dime a dozen = worthless

I say to myself that Mom should have started her question with "Are" not with "Aren't"

i. e. ==> Are high school rock bands a dime a dozen (worthless)?

And I say to myself that the Son should have answered with "No" not with "Yes"

I mean the conversation should have been like this:
***********************************************
Mom: "That sounds like a pipe dream. Are high school rock bands a dime a dozen (worthless)?"
Son: "No, but we are different. With my guitar playing and Amber's beautiful voice, we are sure to make a splash!"
*************************************************

Would you please help me with this confusion?

Thank you.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    You are wrong on both counts.
    It is convention in English to ask this type of question in the negative.
    If mom were trying to say this not as a question, she would probably say "High school bands are worthless."
    Then, another typical English construct is to append a "tag question", which is generally negative if the statement is positive: "High school bands are worthless, aren't they?"
    The next step is to combine the tag question with the statement into a negative question: "Aren't HS bands worthless?" or "Are HS bands not worthless?".

    The son's answer relates to the positive statement, not the negative question. He says yes they are in general worthless, but ours is different, we'll be great.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It means worthless in the sense that there are already too many high school rock bands around. His mother seems to think her son's band is therefore doomed to failure: he doesn't agree with that, which is why he says no.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    You are incorrect. The conversation as it stands is natural and your version would be weird.
    It doesn't mean worthless, by the way, it means very common.
    Mom: Aren't there hundreds of high school rock bands?
    Son: Yeah (there are a lot) but we are different
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    It doesn't mean worthless, by the way, it means very common.
    Thank you. Now I see.
    Do you know why I was confused? Because dictionaries said that "a dime a dozen" also means "having little value"

    I thought the mom had said "Aren't high school rock bands in little value?"
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Yes, worthless is not accurate, I just stuck with it for brevity.
    The meaning isn't really that they have little value either, just that there are so many bands out there that starting another one is not going to be a good business proposition. Mom thinks it unlikely that her son would recover the $1000 investment in a new guitar.
     
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