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Although the construction “I could care less,” is derided as a careless rendering of “I couldn’t care less,” and one that undermines the speaker’s intention of expressing lack of interest in something, I’ve often wondered if “I could care less,” actually reinforces the speaker’s attitude (the speaker is so uninterested, she doesn’t even bother to express herself correctly). Is there a name for this rhetorical strategy?

There was much interesting information in the suggested question, answers and comments, but I wanted to know if this were done intentionally is there a name for the device, other than the much too broad "ironic."

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  • Which is correct: “could care less” or “couldn't care less”? is a related question that has a possible answer. – Tonepoet Dec 2 '18 at 1:10
  • Possible duplicate of Which is correct: "could care less" or "couldn't care less"? – Robusto Dec 2 '18 at 1:20
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    Thi Q is not a duplicate of the cited former question. The OP is asking whether there is a technical term for this misusage; the earlier Q did not address this at all. I don't know whether there is a technical term -- my own term is "sloppy English". – ab2 Dec 2 '18 at 10:39
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    "I could care less" is merely a different example of the difference between US American and British English heard in the final scene of Gone With the Wind when Rhet Butler tells Scarlet O'Hara "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." The only point is the emphasis which in the American movie is very clearly on "give" above "damn" while in Britain it would always be the other way round, to the extend that many Britons think Clark Gable failed to get Rhet right. – Robbie Goodwin Dec 11 '18 at 1:02
  • @RobbieGoodwin You're right. Putting the emphasis on "give" makes the sentence a bagatelle. Rhet/Clark doesn't even care about "damn." But I don't see why Britons wouldn't employ the same strategy at times, unless they always want the sentence to be serious. – Zan700 Dec 11 '18 at 17:46

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