LINGUIST List 6.1036

Wed Aug 2 1995

Qs: "Not not", "After you, please", "Madam Chairwoman"

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <dizdartam2000.tamu.edu>


Directory

  1. hiro-t, Query: not not
  2. hiro-t, Query: After you, please.
  3. hiro-t, Query: ?Madam Chairwoman.

Message 1: Query: not not

Date: Tue, 01 Aug 1995 14:52:30 Query: not not
From: hiro-t <hiro-tias.tokushima-u.ac.jp>
Subject: Query: not not

Dear Linguists,
 I am working on the double negative constructions like "I didn't not
come here" and have been looking for the examples like that, but I can
find only a few examples which I think does not cover all types of
the double negatives. I would be very grateful if you could make a sen-
tences using "not not" like the following examples and could agree with
my analysis that they are basically "understatements/litotes" which
obscure the speaker's real intention. Dr. Larry Horn's _A Natural
History of Negation_ cites and exemplifies in detail such double
negatives of "not un-X" constructions, but he made no comments on "not
not" type. I assume that like "not un-X", "not not" can imply not only "
understatements/litotes" but also "irony". Do you agree with my analysis?
 But unfortunately, I could find no examples of "not not" implying
"irony". Bolinger (1980) states that "A not unselfish act, you'll have
to admit." is "ironically euphemistic." I agree with him. But how ironi-
cal? What is the mechanism of such ironical euphemism and how does it
arises? Can Sperber and Wilson's (1981, 1992) theory of "echoic
utterance" cover all the types of such irony? I would be grateful if you
 have a comment on this matter if any.

 The following are some of the examples I could collected:
 (1) A: You and Jim really must come round to my place some evening.
 B: Yes, we'd like to.
 A: Of course, you two don't drink, do you?
 B: Well, we _don't not_ drink. (Hurford and Heasley 1983: 284,
 _Semantics: A Course Book_ CUP.)
Minoru Nakau (1994) _Nin-chi Imiron No Genri (Principles of Cognitive
Semantics), Taishukan, written in Japanese, also quotes the above
example, saying that B's "we don't not drink" is an echo or meta-lingui-
stic expression of A's words "you two don't drink", and also that B does
 not definitely say that they drink, rather obscure their intention and
 hesitate to admit they drink a lot. That is why B doesn't say "we do
drink." In this sense, _we don't not drink_ can be quoted like _we don't
 "not drink", where _don't_ is an external negation which negates the
pre-negated assertion as inapproriate or false and "not drink" is an
internal negation.

 The below two examples are also from Nakau's (1994) collection:
 (2) It is odd that _coffee-grounds_ is plural. They may be "composed
 of particles", but they are obviously _not "not_ too many for
 anyone to be able to count". The point is even more striking with _
 dregs_ and _lees_, which are largely liquid. (F.R. Palmer, (1990) "
 Review Articles: _The Semantics of Grammar_, by Anna Wierzbicka." _
 Journal of Linguistics_ 26: 223-233.)
 (3) For Example, nouns such as _heap_ or _committee_ are _not_
 "semantically plural but syntactically _not_ plural". (A.
 Wierzbicka (1991) "Semantic Rules Know No Exceptions." _Studies
 in Language_ 15, 371-398.)

 The next example is the one I found in R.B. Parker's novel _Valedic-
tion_ (1984). Contrary to my analysis, this is not an understatement
but some kind of emphatic expression. What do you think? How do you
interpret this example?
 (4) Susan said, "I've taken a job in San Francisco."
 I put the glass down on the counter. I could feel myself begin to
 shrink inward.
 "I'm leaving tonight," she said. "I had planned to stay the night
 with you and tell you in the morning, but I can't. I _can't not_
 tell you." (R.B. Parker, _Valediction_, p. 19)
My interpretation of the sentences in question is that "..., but I can't
 (tell you in the morning). (But) I _can't not_ tell=can't help telling
you (now)." "Can't" is echoed and the abbreaviated adverbials are
different. Is my interpretation correct?

 I would be very grateful if you reply to me. Thanks a lot in advance.

Best Wishes,
Hiroaki Tanaka,
Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Tokushima University, Japan.
E-mail: hiro-tias.tokushima-u.ac.jp
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Message 2: Query: After you, please.

Date: Tue, 01 Aug 1995 14:55:09 Query: After you, please.
From: hiro-t <hiro-tias.tokushima-u.ac.jp>
Subject: Query: After you, please.

Dear Linguists,
 I ask a query on the phrase _After you + please_ on behalf of my
former professor/supervisor in my graduate school days. He is a famous
lexicographer in Japan and edits many English-Japanese dictionaries, but
 unfortunately does not have any contact with this list. He wants this
kind of information to be on his dictionaries. His query is:

 Can you say like this?
 After you, please.
If possible, what is the exact meaning and when and how do you use
it?

 Please reply to me. I will post a summary when I receive enough
responses. Thakns a lot in advance.

Hiroaki Tanaka,
Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Tokushima Unievrsity, Japan
E-mail: hiro-tias.tokushima-u.ac.jp
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Message 3: Query: ?Madam Chairwoman.

Date: Tue, 01 Aug 1995 14:57:30 Query: ?Madam Chairwoman.
From: hiro-t <hiro-tias.tokushima-u.ac.jp>
Subject: Query: ?Madam Chairwoman.

Dear Linguists,
 I ask a query on the word _Madam + Chairman/Chairwoman/Chairperson_
on behalf of my former professor/supervisor in my graduate school days.
He is a famous lexicographer in Japan and edits many English-Japanese
dictionaries, but unfortunately does not have any contact with this list.
He wants this kind of information to be on his dictionaries. His query
is:

 When you address a chairman/chairwoman/chairperson, you use "Mr.
Chairman" to a male chair and "Madam Chairman" to a female chair. But
don't you use a phrase like "Madam Chairwoman" or "Madam Chairperson" if
 you exactly follow the rule of anti-sexism? Or just use "Chair"?

 Please reply to me. I will post a summary when I receive enough
responses. Thakns a lot in advance.

Hiroaki Tanaka,
Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Tokushima Unievrsity, Japan
E-mail: hiro-tias.tokushima-u.ac.jp
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue