LINGUIST List 3.806

Wed 21 Oct 1992

Disc: Negatives

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. , negatives
  2. John S. Coleman, 3.804 Negatives
  3. , Ample Negatives
  4. "Soren Harder, Depts. of Phil. & Ling.", Re: 3.804 Paradox, Negatives
  5. , Re: 3.804 Paradox, Negatives

Message 1: negatives

Date: 21 October 1992, 08:43:07 negatives
From: <Margaret.E.Winters.GA3704.at.SIUCVMBtamvm1.tamu.edu>
Subject: negatives

What seems to be going on with phrases like `I could care less' or
`I could give a damn' is that the negation has moved to what was
a negative polarity item - it has become negative in its own right
without the need for a trigger. I suggested in a paper several years
ago that the evolution of French `pas' from `step' to negator included
that change as well, with what was a negative polarity item (in
phrases roughly equivalent to `I won't walk another step!') becoming
a full negator. There was much more to the story, but that was
part of it. John Lawler has a paper in a CLS volume (197x???)
about these expressions in English.
 Margaret
P.S. Note that `I could care less' is still definitely negative -
I left that point out above.
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Message 2: 3.804 Negatives

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 92 10:08:01 ED3.804 Negatives
From: John S. Coleman <jscmbeya.research.att.com>
Subject: 3.804 Negatives

In our CLS paper this year, Jennifer Cole and I wrote:
"The conventional formalism of generative phonology, including
rewrite rules and cyclicity, has long been known to be insufficiently
unconstrained."

Thanks to Steve Bird for pointing out that the above means that we
think generative phonology ought to be even less constrained, whereas we
meant the opposite, of course. It still gets me, though, every time
I look at it.

--- John Coleman
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Message 3: Ample Negatives

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 92 10:11:58 EDAmple Negatives
From: <John.M.Lawlerum.cc.umich.edu>
Subject: Ample Negatives

I've tried to keep my discussion of these negative topics out of the
general flow of the List, but since they're being discussed here:

 (1) I am a native speaker of the "...so don't I" (= "...so do I" (!))
 dialect, and come from DeKalb County, Illinois, where it is still
 common and much-remarked-on as a local peculiarity. I have observed
 it also in the speech of natives of western New England, which is
 the place where many early settlers of DeKalb County originated.

 Details of the syntax of this oddity are contained in an article I
 published in CLS 10 (1974). The title is "Ample Negatives".

 (2) Also in this article is an analysis of other negative peculiarities,
 including various cases where there are either more or fewer overt
 negative markers in the sentence than there are in the semantic
 representation, such as Labov's
 "Ain't no cat can't get in no coop"
 and occurences of negative loss (which are analyzed as promotion of
 polarity items to full-fledged negative status, similar to the
 negative force of ...pas in French, where the phonological opacity
 of the official negative ne... in the ne...pas discontinuous con-
 struction affords opportunities for promotion, resulting in such
 examples as "Pas de fumer".

 "I could give a damn" is analyzed along these lines; "give a damn"
 is an NPI that has achieved at least temporary, contextual negative
 force, and the phenomenon is not unusual.

 (3) By far the most interesting negative construction discussed there is
 the construction (first noted by Postal) exemplified by:

 "Will Bush win another term?"
 "Not if I have anything to say about it, he won't."

 This is essentially the same phenomenon as a stigmatized "double
 negative", with two surface Neg's but only 1 semantic one. It
 is analyzed as being required for (essentially, what we would now
 say are) functional parsing reasons.

Cheers,
-John Lawler
 University of Michigan
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Message 4: Re: 3.804 Paradox, Negatives

Date: 21 Oct 92 15:45:28 MET
From: "Soren Harder, Depts. of Phil. & Ling." <LINSOHAstud.hum.aau.dk>
Subject: Re: 3.804 Paradox, Negatives


 reneandy.hssc.scarolina.edu (A. Rene' Schmauder) writes

> I have an acquaintance who regularly uses "So don't I" where most
> people I know would say "So do I." ...

Couldn't that be (originally) 'So, don't I?'

Just theorizing,
Soren Harder
 ###################################################
 Soren Harder, Stud. mag. linguistics and philosophy
 E-mail: linsohastud.hum.aau.dk
 Physical address:
 University of Aarhus
 Dept. of Linguistics
 Nordre Ringgade, Bldg. 327
 DK-8000 Aarhus
 Denmark
 ####################################################
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Message 5: Re: 3.804 Paradox, Negatives

Date: 21 Oct 1992 11:52:51 -0300Re: 3.804 Paradox, Negatives
From: <WTGORDONAC.DAL.CA>
Subject: Re: 3.804 Paradox, Negatives

	I can support Benji Wald's claim that "I could care less" dates
from at least the 1950s. I heard it first circa 1954 from a man in
Toronto who had recently moved from Saskatchewan.
	I have long thought it might be a shortened form of the sarcastic
question "Do you think I could care less?" or perhaps of "Don't imagine
that I could care less."
	There is in French something called "expressive negation" which
is a comparable phenomenon. It is a use of "ne" without the "pas"
which normally completes a true negative but also without any negative
force. Standard historical grammars such as Brunot and Bruneau give a
dozen or more syntactic patterns or lexically determined contexts in
which the "ne expressif" occurs. The explanation usually given is that
of contamination or carry-over effect. Thus two related sentences such
as "Je desire qu'il ne pleuve pas" and "Je crains qu'il pleuve" give
rise to "Je crains qu'il ne pleuve". In the latter, "pas is lost, but
rise to "Je crains qu'il ne pleuve". In the latter, "pas" is lost, but
so is the negative meaning.
--Terry Gordon (WTGORDONAC.DAL.CA)
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