LINGUIST List 4.898

Sun 31 Oct 1993

Disc: That Will Teach You

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. Larry Horn, Re: 4.884 That Will Teach You
  2. , Re: 4.884 That Will Teach You
  3. , RE: 4.884 That Will Teach You

Message 1: Re: 4.884 That Will Teach You

Date: Wed, 27 Oct 93 09:22:31 EDRe: 4.884 That Will Teach You
From: Larry Horn <LHORNYALEVM.YCC.YALE.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.884 That Will Teach You

In response to Knud Lambrecht's posting: sorry, I must have not made myself
clear in my earlier one. I of course didn't mean that the NEGATION in 'I
could(n't) care less' or in 'That'll teach you (not) to come on time' was
at all ironic. Rather,the point was (supposed to be) that the conventionalized
irony (or, perhaps, following Claude Steinberg, conventionalized sarcasm)
in the POSITIVE version of these (and also, I claimed, in 'a lot of good
THAT'll do', etc.) is akin to the conventionalized irony/sarcasm in the pleo-
nastic negative that shows up in e.g. 'so don't I'. The negative versions of
'I couldn't care less' and 'That'll teach you not to come on time' are not
obviously sarcastic or ironic or--at least in the former case--idiomatic (i.e.
conventionalized). Now the negation that shows up pleonastically in 'miss
(not) VPing', 'surprised if it does(n't)...', prendre garde de (ne pas) tomber,
etc., is NOT, unlike the one in 'so don't I', ironic or sarcastic; rather, as
noted by Knud in his posting (and me in my 1991 CLS paper on double negation)
attributable to the difficulty of processing multiple negations especially
when at least one is non-overt. Thus, unlike 'could care less' (where the
positive is ironic and the negative literal) or 'so don't I' (where the
opposite is the case), here there's no irony either way. The categories of
polarity, irony/sarcasm, and pleonasticity are distinct, although they
interact in interesting and confusing ways. I hope this doesn't unclarify
the situation too much.
 --Larry Horn (LHORNYALEVM)

P.S. I'm also grateful to Laurie Bauer for HIS (not HER) summary, and to Knud
for his thoughtful comments and insightful research on conventionality and
idiomaticity.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 4.884 That Will Teach You

Date: Wed, 27 Oct 93 14:21:06 GMRe: 4.884 That Will Teach You
From: <alexcompapp.dcu.ie>
Subject: Re: 4.884 That Will Teach You

i agree with claude steinberg's comment that the location of prominence is
not the only variable in the prosody of "that'll teach you to come early".
as he/she points out, the boundary phenomena are also relevant. (i assume
claude is not arguing for accent on EARLY, but i'm not quite sure what is
meant by "fall-rise" at NWU!)
however, i strongly maintain that it is possible to produce exactly the same
prosody (pitch, duration, voice quality, energy, the lot) in both the
scenarios i outlined and allow different interpretations (literal vs.
non-literal) depending on the context.

by the way, i apologise for not giving a full name: i'll fix my mail header.
when i was at edinburgh the header said "alex monaghan" (male), but dublin
must be different.
 alex.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: RE: 4.884 That Will Teach You

Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1993 17:23 +01RE: 4.884 That Will Teach You
From: <WERTHalf.let.uva.nl>
Subject: RE: 4.884 That Will Teach You

I've been giving some thought to the interesting discussion on these items,
and it seems to me that what we have here is in fact a case of interference
between constructions, which gives rise to some of the puzzling features
which correspondents have pointed out. The problem cases are:
 (1) That'll teach you to \come /late
and (2) That'll teach you \not to come /late (\ = 'fall'; / = 'rise').
Both of these, on the relevant reading, mean something like 'You were late:
here's a lesson in punctuality'. Yet the similar sentences:
 (3) That'll teach you to come \late
and (4) That'll teach you \not to come late,
have the expected distinction in meaning: (3) teaches tardiness, and (4)
teaches punctuality.
But here's where another construction becomes relevant:
 (5) That'll teach you, \coming /late
and (6) That'll teach you, \not coming /late.
Both of these have the expected meaning: in (5), the addressee was late, and
has to be taught a lesson in punctuality; in (6), the addressee was too early,
and must be taught tardiness. The intonation pattern (which can't to my ears
be other than this, and certainly not a falling contour), has its normal
attitudinal connotation of 'challenge' or 'contradiction'. Returning to the
problem cases, now, we can see that (2) isn't in fact so odd: it has the
expected meaning, that of teaching punctuality, and on top of this it has the
'challenging' FR intonation, which simply comes from the specific type of
situation it's supposed to be occurring in (the addressee is being ticked off).
But (1) IS odd, compared to the "literal" (3), since it evinces precisely the
opposite meaning. But notice that this is exactly the meaning of the formally
similar (5), where this interpretation is "legitimate" since the major pause
indicates a construction boundary, and the clause 'coming late' defines the
situation against which the teaching is to take place. In (2)-(4), on the
other hand, (not) coming late is the OBJECT of the teaching - hence no major
pause/construction boundary. (1) therefore shares both the meaning and the
intonation of (5). (2), of course, also has this intonation - but that's
because we've stipulated the kind of confrontational situation in which this
contour is common. Even without this intonation, the basic arrangement of
meaning remains the same in (2).

Regards to all,
Paul.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue