Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ex-Fugee Commits Logical Redundancy



Remember Wyclef Jean's and Mary J. Blige's soulful 2000 duet, "911"? Breaking news: its lyrics contain a whopping big piece of logical redundancy.
If this is the kind of love that my mom used to warn me about
Man, I'm in trouble
I'm in real big trouble
If this is the kind of love that the old folks used to warn me about
Man, I'm in trouble
I'm in real big trouble
Expressing this in the programming language Pascal, you get
IF trouble=1 THEN trouble:=1;
Or compare this piece of plain English:
If this is the kind of fruit my mom used to call an apple, then I've got an apple.
More generally, it might be phrased:
I hold the advice of my mom/the old folks in high regard.
Shocking stuff. What's next? Will he start using the double negative? Ain't there no sense in the man?

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Henrik said...

hi Martin, I think it could be boiled down to either
a) just another trip to Systembolaget or>

b)

if (love==true) {
trouble++;
}

28 May, 2006 01:59  
Blogger Martin said...

Aha, so Mr Jean's confusion may simply be due to his mom and other old folks giving him incorrect information about love, suggesting to him that there might be a trouble-free variety.

28 May, 2006 08:05  
Anonymous Tor said...

You are being quite unfair. The first half of Mr. Jean's lyrics allows us to infer two things.

Firstly, as you mention, he holds his mom's advice in high regard.

Secondly, there exists a kind of love of which Mr. Jean's mom claimed that whoever indulges in it ends up in real big trouble. The qualifier `real big' tells us that his mom's warning was a dire one, and thus adds significantly to the information conveyed by the first line.

Similar comments apply, _mutatis mutandis_, to the second half of the lyrics. I find in this quote no indication that, considered as a logician, Mr. Jean is in any way inferior to yourself. I'm sure he's a real crappy archaeologist, though.

28 May, 2006 14:45  
Blogger Martin said...

I beg to differ. Mr Jean doesn't tell us how dire his mom's warnings were. The distinction between ordinary trouble and real big trouble is of no importance here.

However, it's possible that what we're seeing is actually a progressive series of realisations on the part of the poet as he writes the lyrics.

[lines 1-2] I observe love. I wonder if it's the kind my mom used to warn me about. If so, then I'm of course in trouble, my mom being a trustworthy judge of such things.

[line 3] I realise that this love is indeed the kind that the old folks used to warn me about. Ergo, I'm in real big trouble. Someone, please call 911.

[line 4-6] Repeat: the poet re-lives the crucial moment of realisation.

28 May, 2006 16:15  

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