One quote, two opposing interpretations

A Daily Mail article from last year (click for a larger image):

Scan from the Daily Mail, September 2008
I am intrigued by the quote from Ann Robinson at the top of the second column: "We cannot under-estimate the impact higher household energy prices will have on customers."

Presumably Robinson means that the impact of higher energy prices shouldn't be underestimated; that to do so would be unwise. However when I first read the article I took her to be saying that it was impossible to underestimate the impact of higher prices; in other words, that the impact would be so small as to be negligible. This, obviously, conflicts with what Robinson says next.

One quote, two opposing interpretations. Context indicates which one is correct.

Online version of the story from This is Money

Happy new year, by the way, and I hope your energy bills aren't too high in 2009...


The Ridger, FCD said...

This sort of over-negation is pretty common. The guys at Language Log have written about "cannot underestimate" meaning "must not underestimate" several times - here and here, for instance.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Just don't misunderestimate the impact.