LINGUIST List 3.829

Mon 26 Oct 1992

Disc: Ne Pleonastique

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  1. "Don W.", 'Ne' pleonastique
  2. , negation

Message 1: 'Ne' pleonastique

Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1992 16:08:51 'Ne' pleonastique
From: "Don W." <webbdCCVAX.CCS.CSUS.EDU>
Subject: 'Ne' pleonastique

In 3-806 Terry Gordon cites "Je crains qu'il ne pleuve"
with "ne" as a fossilized negation that no longer exists.
"'pas' is lost, but so is the negative meaning," he says.

The sentence does mean 'I fear it may rain', but I thought
the "ne" never had anything to do with a negation ('I fear
it may not rain'?) but that it is used in the subordinate
clause following "craindre que," "de crainte que," "avant que"
"a' moins que" and perhaps other expressions.

As such, I understand, "ne" is a holdover from a Latin
construction. I'd be obliged to any Latinists on the list
who can explain it to me.

Afterthought: "ne" is also placed after the subject of the
second clause when two clauses are compared, e.g. "Ce 'ne'
est plus difficile a' comprendre que je ne pensais," 'This "ne"
is harder to understand than I thought." Again, no negation
is implied. But was it ever? Perhaps Latin could help us here,
as well.

These constructions are not to be confused, of course, with
ones in which "ne" is used as a full, general negation without
"pas," as with the verbs /pouvoir, savoir, oser, cesser,
craindre/, e.g. "N'ayez crainte," 'Fear not'; "Je ne saurais
le croire," 'I cannot believe that'; "Je n'ose le dire,"
'I dastn't say' (= 'Gag me with a spoon'??). Or with "ne"
as a full negation in a second clause when the first is fully
negated, e.g. "Cela ne se dit pas ni ne s'ecrit," 'That isn't
said or written'.

Probably more about "ne" than we really wanted to know...

Don W. (DonWebbCSUS.EDU)
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Message 2: negation

Date: 25 October 1992, 14:14:33 negation
From: <GA3704SIUCVMB.Bitnet>
Subject: negation

I am not sure that the fact that *pas* is now the unmarked
negator in French (Je le vois pas) is relevant to the analysis
of `ne espressif' arising from a conflation of two ideas. My
impression is that this *ne* after expressions like *avant que*
*avoir craint que* etc. is on its way out and shows up in
 comparatively careful written and spoken French only. Any
reactions from native speakers?

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