Apparently, "I never recognize 90% of the people" means that each time you can only recognize less than 10 percent of the people. (Cf. comments under this video.) My naive syntactic preconceptions tells me that never means "there is no time/occasion, such that ..." which would tell you that the sentence should mean "There was no occasion (and never will be), on which I recognized 90% (or more) of the people", in contradiction to the apparently prevalent interpretation of the sentence. Somehow, the 90% came to refer to the number of people you don't recognize.
I would like to understand how this works exactly. Interestingly, the German literal translation "Ich erkenne nie 90% der Leute" doesn't work in the former sense and would rather be interpreted as conveying the "logical" sense. So what is the grammatical difference in these two superficially identically structured sentences?
Edit: I'm not interested in stylistic recommendations, as I understand that it is colloquial and ambiguous and therefore should be avoided in formal writing. But as it is a phrase some native speakers produce spontaneously and most others seem to have no problem parsing it the intended way (at least given an appropriate context), I would like to understand how the syntax gets reanalyzed syntactically to yield that meaning. but would like to understand