LINGUIST List 3.804

Wed 21 Oct 1992

Disc: Paradox, Negatives

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Leland Emerson McCleary, Paradox
  2. A. Rene' Schmauder, Negatives
  3. David Denison, 3.800 Negatives
  4. , Negatives
  5. benji wald, Re: 3.793 Queries: Lexicon, Polish, Dialects

Message 1: Paradox

Date: Tue, 20 Oct 92 15:20:14 -0Paradox
From: Leland Emerson McCleary <>
Subject: Paradox

After being primed by the "Barber of Seville" discussion, I
was amazed to receive the following piece from an undergraduate
student in response to the assignment: "Collect real-life
examples of logical thinking". The student relates something
a cousin of hers said to her several years ago that stuck with
her. I give the argument in the original Portuguese and then
in an approximate translation.

"'Toda regra tem excecao'. E' uma regra, nao e'? Logo, ja'
que e' uma regra, tambem deve ter a sua excecao; ou seja, deve
haver alguma regra que nao tenha excecao. E qual sera' essa regra?
Pode haver mais de uma, mas eu penso comigo que pode ser muito
bem ESSA MESMA REGRA. Quer dizer, a regra 'toda regra tem excecao'
pode ser considerada a regra que nao tem excecao; e' excecao de si

"'Every rule has an exception'. It's a rule, isn't it? Therefore,
since it's a rule, it too must have its exception; in other words,
there must be a rule that has no exception. And what should this
rule be? There could be more than one, but I think to myself that
it could very well be THIS SAME RULE. That is, the rule 'every rule
has an exception' can be considered the rule that has no exception;
it's its own exception."

--Leland McCleary
Universidade se Sao Paulo
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Negatives

Date: Tue, 20 Oct 92 09:16:46 EDNegatives
From: A. Rene' Schmauder <>
Subject: Negatives

In response to Henry Kucera's query on negatives and Jane Edwards'
contribution to the discussion, I add the following query:

I have an acquaintance who regularly uses "So don't I" where most
people I know would say "So do I." Were I asked to guess where this
person learned this dialect, I would not have picked western Massachusetts.
What is the distribution of this usage?

-A. Rene' Schmauder (
 Dept. of Psychology
 University of South Carolina
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: 3.800 Negatives

Date: Tue, 20 Oct 92 17:28:12 BS3.800 Negatives
From: David Denison <MFCEPDDCMS.MCC.AC.UK>
Subject: 3.800 Negatives

You all know about this case of an extra negative, I'm sure:
 I really miss not having a car.
Meaning: I haven't got one at the moment. Very common at all levels
of education.
David D.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Negatives

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1992 09:22:39 Negatives
From: <>
Subject: Negatives

Another example of negative spreading: I have heard several times recently
in news broadcasts the word _irregardless_. Obviously _regardless_ isn't
negative enough!
Laurie Bauer
Wellington, New Zealand
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 5: Re: 3.793 Queries: Lexicon, Polish, Dialects

Date: Tue, 20 Oct 92 17:06 PDT
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.793 Queries: Lexicon, Polish, Dialects

Dialects. I have been aware of the expression "I could care less" since
the early 1950s in NYC, and suppose that it may be much older than me.
Source: sarchasm. I wouldn't claim the expression has a NYC origin but
sarchasm does seem to be more readily understood in NYC than, say, in LA.
Personally, I noticed in my first years in LA my automatic and sometimes
unconscious use of sarchasm was misunderstood by West Coast and MidWesterners
and taken as my actual sentiments, rather than the opposite...
Phrased more carefully, I would say it is a more frequently employed device
in NYC than in many, probably most areas of the US. Some British communities
seem to be pretty sarchastic to me as well, so I wouldn't be surprised to
find similar things there, say, in London or Liverpool, but nothing
immeidately comes to mind. Finally, it has been interesting and amusing to
me to note that the Saturday Night Live TV comedy program on NBC has been
spreading an explicit marker of sarchasm for comic purposes where any
seemingly complimentary proposition can be tagged with the negative marker
"NOT!" prosodically marked with abrupt low monotone to sound like a buzzer
signalling a wrong answer on a quiz show, e.g., " I think you're
really a great cook, NOT!" that means I think you're a lousy
cook. This use of a
NOT! tag to mark sarchasm explicitly (beyond prosody which often marks it
anyway) is relatively new I'm sure, and I think it has the origin in the
buzzer sound as I just explained -- and I remember people using the buzzer
sound with their voice to mark sarchasm in NYC at an earlier period with the
same effect -- or could use it as a response to what they considered a
stupid statement just uttered by someone else. The sound could also be
interpreted as throwing up, whence the gesture of pointing a finger down
one`s own throat as if to indicate or induce nausea as an evaluation of
an immedialetly previous utterance...
Now putting the whole thing
together we can posit a NEW "surface" structure to "I could care less"
which is "I could care less, NOT!" This is a joke, the old underlying
marker is simply an abstract sarchasm marker which may not be
explicit at all, or might come out as the vocal imitation of the
buzzer, the retching sound of nausea or some subtler
prosody on the proposition itself. In any case, I think the new use of
NOT! supplying an explicit sarchasm marker ( and a morphological one at that!)
is at least of equal linguistic interest to the question about leaving
off negative markers in the expression of sarchasm. It at least gives me
a new resource so when my sarchasm is met with "you really think so?" I
can say "let me rephrase that. /repetition of previous utterance/, NOT!"
OK or OK not?
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue