A small topic not undedicated to Double Negatives

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liza
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby liza » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:31 am UTC

Tom Swifties were created in mockery of that "she said adverbially" construct, actually.
Just an aside.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Baza210 » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:58 am UTC

liza wrote:Tom Swifties were created in mockery of that "she said adverbially" construct, actually.
Just an aside.


"Dorothy, if you're going to Oz again, I'm going with you," Em barked."
Hahaha.

In [informal] spoken French, the preceding 'ne' is sometimes left out in the negative construction:

The French negative adverb pas is often used in conjunction with ne, but pas can also be used all on its own. The main difference between these two constructions is that ne... pas is used to negate a verb, while pas without ne is used to negate an adjective, adverb, noun, or some other non-verbal construction. Pas can also be used to confirm a statement. The usage of pas without ne is somewhat informal - in most cases, it is possible to make a sentence using ne... pas that means the same thing.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby goofy » Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:49 pm UTC

Quixotess wrote:Actually, JK Rowling had a serious adverb problem. If you go through the books, and look at all the dialogue, you will find almost no instances of "he said" or "she said." It's always "he sneered" or "she said nervously" or something. She cannot leave that said to itself. This is a pet peeve of a lot of authors and is considered by some to be poor writing, from the principle that dialogue should mostly speak for itself. It gets really grating after a while.


But on the other hand, you do not become a good writer by removing all your adverbs.

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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Aveteomni » Sun Aug 24, 2008 3:26 am UTC

So what do we do with English if the rules are unnecessary/obsolete? How do we define correct? If this is in another thread, feel free to reprimand me for not knowing what to search for, but I thought this thread covered it nicely, and I'll try to tie it back into the double negative, but moving forward....
Moreso with split infinitives, subjunctive "was," and other constructs existing for more aesthetic than practical purposes... Of course for English classes it's likely a good idea to follow the better-agreed upon rule (though I'm sure more liberal teachers would accept anything that you can argue for.) It's probably just an example of how English is still evolving. I'm only going to be a senior in High School, but I'm interested in taking linguistics in college, as language is a passion of mine, but I'm really interested in what is more correct. I believe, for the double negative at least, when you want to negate the negative without making it positive, it's not even a cosmetic preference, but rather an useful tool. The emphatic negation seems more colloquial and unnecessary, but it adds color to the language if someone is trying to write a book or imitate those who practice such colloquial speech (i.e. "y'all" for singular "you" and "all y'all" for plural "you".) As you pointed out though, the subjunctive "was" and the split infinitive are actually going out of practice, so do I stick with the old, semi-obsolete rules, or do I go with the flow and use "their" as first person possessive neuter pronoun or say "to not use" instead of "not to use"?
Personally I'm a fan of sticking with the old practices as it adds to the "fun" (for me) of speaking English, allowing there to be more to learn instead of simply going with the colloquial, but I suspect that's the reason the language is taking longer to decide definitely on which way to go.
I also think it's interesting to note how the makers of standardized tests (e.g. SAT) are leaving out such ambiguous parts of speech such as "their" since the base is so fluid.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby acousticcarnival » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:36 pm UTC

Having posted on this topic already, I fear I may have posted the very type of double negatives that irk me so much.
On USAToday's article regarding the possible underage status of the Chinese gymnasts, i left the following post:

"The Chinese government has a long history of altering written history and silencing dissent.

To say they would not forge documents to save face and avoid a scandal is not the least bit unlikely."

Upon rereading it... i began to wonder if I said what i meant to say in the latter half of the comment. When I tried to sort it out mentally, a got a flash of blue in my vision with white font saying "Internal Error 39823479" and some other junk, then my mind went blank. When I came to, I forgot what it was I was trying to decipher. I think I hit a triple negative which cause my mind to reboot.

Is it correct??
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby acousticcarnival » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:50 pm UTC

Aveteomni wrote:So what do we do with English if the rules are unnecessary/obsolete? How do we define correct? If this is in another thread, feel free to reprimand me for not knowing what to search for, but I thought this thread covered it nicely, and I'll try to tie it back into the double negative, but moving forward....


3 things
1. Great guestion!
2. You post what EVER the hell you want where you want it.
No, actually, you don't.
30% of this entire forum is pointless bickering about "reposts" and "following the threads." If people just stopped making a deal about following threads and all that $hit, there would be LESS garbage and unnecessary comments to sort through on the site.
And a hell of a lot more random off-topic discussion about things that are completely unrelated to anything someone comes into that thread to discuss.

(not the linguistics group of course. We are, by nature, economical and efficient with language, words, and postings)

3. I don't have an answer to your question at this time, but as a 12th grade English teacher, it's a discussion I will pose to my honor's students. And when they write a 2 page essay on it, I will blame you, Aveteomni, and direct them to this forum.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Quixotess » Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:25 pm UTC

acousticcarnival wrote: 2. You post what EVER the hell you want where you want it. 30% of this entire forum is pointless bickering about "reposts" and "following the threads." If people just stopped making a deal about following threads and all that $hit, there would be LESS garbage and unnecessary comments to sort through on the site.

You're living dangerously here. Don't think he reads linguistics, but he could be watching you at this point.
You don't think who reads linguistics? Because I certainly do. And am.

goofy wrote:But on the other hand, you do not become a good writer by removing all your adverbs.

Oh def. I tend to put a general moratorium on any adverbs going with "said", but even that has exceptions now and then. The time adverbs are invaluable, of course, and other adverbs can be quite valuable too. Still, I think lively writing depends most heavily on nouns and verbs, especially verbs.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby acousticcarnival » Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:17 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:
acousticcarnival wrote: 2. You post what EVER the hell you want where you want it. 30% of this entire forum is pointless bickering about "reposts" and "following the threads." If people just stopped making a deal about following threads and all that $hit, there would be LESS garbage and unnecessary comments to sort through on the site.

You're living dangerously here. Don't think he reads linguistics, but he could be watching you at this point.
You don't think who reads linguistics? Because I certainly do. And am.

goofy wrote:..


You're living dangerously here. Don't think he reads linguistics, but he could be watching you at this point..?

blah, blah. So a moderator kicks me out? Seriously? Is that what xkcd.com's policy is. That's how they filter the dissemination of information, deciding who can and who can not contribute an idea, when, and where. I've added my insights to discussions and have raised thought-provoking ideas. And to "double-post" or not search threads to make sure you don't happen to have the same idea as someone else in the WORLD, would, what, result in exile?! Get one banned? Stop for one second and think about how contradictory that is to the essance of the internet and freedoms of speech. Think for one second how dumb of a thing is to "ban" or "warn" or "kick out" someone. It's just a strange way for a person to get their daily supply of "i matter."
"Today I silenced a poster on the forum for creating a thread on a topic that was already brought up in April 2007."
"Wow. Did you also get around to cutting the grass like your mom asked?"
"Nah, not yet, I got to scan these Intro Threads for reposts first, then update my avatar."
"Alright, well the LAN party as Jake's was canceled. Did you hear about his router?"

If someone would justify the logic to their policy I'd be much more receptive, but when I ask if xkcd has a storage limit or something, or a rationale, i received no answer.

I'd rather be booted than to know moderators behave like that. It's not like there isn't other forums online.

Oh, and as for the topic of this thread, I like this pickup line I stumbled on today:

If I were to ask you for sex, would your answer be the same as the answer to this question?
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Quixotess » Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:32 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:
acousticcarnival wrote: 2. You post what EVER the hell you want where you want it. 30% of this entire forum is pointless bickering about "reposts" and "following the threads." If people just stopped making a deal about following threads and all that $hit, there would be LESS garbage and unnecessary comments to sort through on the site.

You're living dangerously here. Don't think he reads linguistics, but he could be watching you at this point.
You don't think who reads linguistics? Because I certainly do. And am.

Well, we've completely jumped off topic by now, so if you're Saladin (and I think that is a Saladin red) then I was wrong. If you aren't Saladin and don't know what I'm talking about, as might be inferred from your post, it's here, with here.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Jack Saladin » Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:46 am UTC

That's not "Saladin red", that's "like all the mods except for three red".

But it's just as well I happened across this thread, 'cause that dude is definitely getting banned.

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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Quixotess » Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:13 am UTC

The rise and fall of another martyr.

And yeah, I know, but other things matched too. The aggression, for one. <--light-hearted, don't hurt me.

Um...not hardly no moderators use that other red? Don't think I never saw a discussion veer so wildly off-topic? Actually, that ain't no truth.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Aug 25, 2008 6:30 pm UTC

I'm the one who red-texted both of those posts, fwiw.

acousticcarnival wrote:To say they would not forge documents to save face and avoid a scandal is not the least bit unlikely."

Upon rereading it... i began to wonder if I said what i meant to say in the latter half of the comment.

You're saying it's not unlikely (i.e. that it is somewhat probable) that they wouldn't forge documents to save face. So, no, I don't think you said what you meant, though your meaning is clear on a first readthrough. (Dropping the "not" in the first part of the sentence will make it say what you want it to.)
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby zahlman » Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:53 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Hating on the double negatives, like hating on split infinitives and sentence-ending prepositions and the subjunctive "was", is a fairly recent trend in English. The interesting thing about all of these (besides, of course, the fact that they each have a long history in English, far predating the reactions against them), is that they rarely actually impede our understanding of something, especially once you remove the influence of decades of opposition have on our impressions of sentences that use them.

In other words, "I ain't never seen nobody wear nothin' like that before," if at all difficult to understand, is probably so largely because you've been conditioned to try reading each negation in a formally logical way, where it basically applies to everything else in the sentence after it, instead of reading each one as simply reinforcing the strength of the (single) overall negation, which is how negatives actually function in a number of languages, including many current and historical varieties of English.


It impedes my understanding.

I don't like double negatives, and I don't care how much of a "recent trend" that is. (Although the split-infinitive thing is pretty stupid, I will agree.)

It bothers me on televised dramas when lawyers ask questions in the form "is it not true that...". I honestly expect the witness to give the opposite answer to the one given. I hope I'm never myself called to the stand.

I don't like the idea of negations "reinforcing the strength of the overall negation", first because that kind of emphasis is normally provided by non-verbal cues quite well, and second because it takes away expressivity from the language.

I also really, really hate the expression "all that glitters is not gold". It should be "not all that glitters is gold".

You've probably also noticed that I put my commas and periods outside the double-quotes rather than inside, contradicting the current standard.

Yep. I'm a programmer. :)

goofy wrote:
ndefontenay wrote:
Hence why I was about to post "Je ne suis pas" as my example of a double negative.


"Je NE suis PAS" is not a double negative. It's the negative form using 2 words in french.


"Using 2 words for the negative" is a "double negative", as far as I can see. More accurately, it's negative concord.


Except that the word "pas" actually means "step". What you're saying is that you are not a step towards being (whatever is the direct object of "suis"). This is idiomatic French. Similarly "ne que" (probably best translated with "not but", using a somewhat old-fashioned English construct; nowadays we more often say "only"). The grammar requires the negation to be "closed" with something (not a technical term) and "pas" the the default choice.

French grammar is weird. Honestly, I would suggest you simply not worry about it or bring it up in debates like this. Unless you want to be up all night trying to figure out just what this is which the hell that this is, anyway. :)

gmalivuk wrote:Right, two logical negations of a proposition are logically equivalent to the proposition itself. But natural language is not completely logical nor should it be. It's not meant merely to share factual information, but also get across all kinds of other things, which ability I think would disappear almost entirely were we to replace something interesting like English with something rigid and boring like Lojban.


Having read an introduction to Lojban, I think you greatly underestimate it. The goal is to get rid of semantic ambiguity. There is actually still plenty of room for expressiveness.

masher wrote:Saw this today in an email:

Not infrequently unable to find HSE staff when needed.


Took me a while to parse that...


That kind of thing doesn't bother me at all. The sentence from the Olympics article is garbage, though. Not because of the complexity of negation, but because it's talking about the likelihood of "to say that...". Which first of all is a strange thing, the likelihood of which to discuss*; and secondly is seen to be grammatically incorrect once you rearrange the clauses that way (it should read "saying that...").

* See what I did there with the preposition placement? Muahaha.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:34 am UTC

zahlman wrote:* See what I did there with the preposition placement? Muahaha.

Yes. You mangled your sentence beyond any significant comprehensibility. Good job!
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Quixotess » Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:06 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I'm the one who red-texted both of those posts, fwiw.

FWIW, I could hardly fail to be aware that you read Linguistics, given that you're its mod. :P

Re: the redundancy of double negatives as negatives, why is that a bad thing? We repeat things for emphasis or ease of reading, and I do think there are cases where double negatives accomplish this. Earlier I gave the example of plurals as another thing we repeat as in "These are two books" where every single word in the sentence indicates plurality.

As for "Is it not true that," that's not even a double negative, that's just different syntax. Ditto "all that glitters is not gold" which has the strength of an aphorism (we tolerate all manner of archaic and unusual things in aphorisms; e.g. "the exception that proves the rule"), and its more famous inversion "All that is gold does not glitter" has the reason of poetry. Sound and rhythm are very good reasons for unusual syntax, just ask Shakespeare.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby BrainMagMo » Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:33 am UTC

acousticcarnival wrote:Having posted on this topic already, I fear I may have posted the very type of double negatives that irk me so much.
On USAToday's article regarding the possible underage status of the Chinese gymnasts, i left the following post:

"The Chinese government has a long history of altering written history and silencing dissent.

To say they would not forge documents to save face and avoid a scandal is not the least bit unlikely."

Upon rereading it... i began to wonder if I said what i meant to say in the latter half of the comment. When I tried to sort it out mentally, a got a flash of blue in my vision with white font saying "Internal Error 39823479" and some other junk, then my mind went blank. When I came to, I forgot what it was I was trying to decipher. I think I hit a triple negative which cause my mind to reboot.

Is it correct??

it's not incorrect do to negatives, but because it is a sentence fragment. It has no predicate.
You say "To say x(china not acting bad=unlikely)" but you left out the cupolar "would be to speak truthfully"

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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:38 pm UTC

BrainMagMo wrote:it's not incorrect do to negatives, but because it is a sentence fragment. It has no predicate.

Ah, if that's how to parse it, then you're right. But then there are also all sorts of other problems (because what follows "to say" is then "they would...is not unlikely", which doesn't make any sense). So I think you're parsing it wrong, and it should be "[to say X] is not unlikely".
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Scorpio » Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:14 pm UTC

This post had objectionable content.

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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Quixotess » Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:38 pm UTC

in b4 IP ban
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby MSTR » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:58 am UTC

goofy wrote:
ndefontenay wrote:
Hence why I was about to post "Je ne suis pas" as my example of a double negative.

"Je NE suis PAS" is not a double negative. It's the negative form using 2 words in French.

"Using 2 words for the negative" is a "double negative", as far as I can see. More accurately, it's negative concord.

Except that the word "pas" actually means "step". What you're saying is that you are not a step towards being (whatever is the direct object of "suis"). This is idiomatic French. Similarly "ne que" (probably best translated with "not but", using a somewhat old-fashioned English construct; nowadays we more often say "only"). The grammar requires the negation to be "closed" with something (not a technical term) and "pas" the the default choice.


The French word "pas" also means not, as in pas beaucoup (not much). The ne (insert verb) pas and the ne pas (insert verb) forms of negation is simply how French grammar works. We put the word not before or after a verb to negate it, the French surround or precede a verb with ne pas to negate it. ZAHLMAN* is correct, it is idiomatic and without a word for word translation.

On the general topic of this thread, it has always greatly annoyed me when people ask negative questions, e.g. you don't want any coffee? If I answer no (which is undeniable negative), for some reason they don't realize that no is a negation of their question as a whole, and assume that no is somehow affirmative. If I answer yes (undeniably positive), they're just confused.

Where is such the difficulty in no being negative and yes being positive?



*zahlman: It seemed appropriate to me to solve the problem of beginning a sentence with your username by using the same solution Munroe prefers, hence the all-caps.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby BrainMagMo » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:21 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
BrainMagMo wrote:it's not incorrect do to negatives, but because it is a sentence fragment. It has no predicate.

Ah, if that's how to parse it, then you're right. But then there are also all sorts of other problems (because what follows "to say" is then "they would...is not unlikely", which doesn't make any sense). So I think you're parsing it wrong, and it should be "[to say X] is not unlikely".

But then the sentence uses awkward wording (should be inaccurate, not unlikely), and claims that the Chinese would not forge documents.
I mean i think we wrote the first part of the sentence and by the time he got through several clauses, he forgot the overall clause, which would make more sense.
But if he's still here, I defer to him.

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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Rinsaikeru » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:43 am UTC

I think rage about double negatives should be tempered in some cases depending on context. Is it verbal? Is the statement understandable even with dubious grammar?

It isn't as though the English language is static, we change syntactical, grammatical, and structural elements of it all the time. Occasionally we even quibble about spelling and word function. That said, yes double negatives can drive me nuts when they crop up accidentally in people's writing and speech.

Also, JK Rowling needed more help than adverb removal--she needed editors that weren't afraid of her. :P Good storyteller, but her writing is bloated.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Quixotess » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:53 am UTC

Dude, we should totally start a "bash Harry Potter" thread. There's so much material there, I think it wouldn't never die.

Edit for flimsy attempt at thread relevance.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Simplex » Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:46 am UTC

Double negatives annoy me, however one i recently noticed when in a friends car shocked me, and sent me into fits of laughter.

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The education one is ironic enough, but not needing no thought control? Oh, the joys of music...

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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby LittleKey » Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:08 am UTC

ZLVT wrote:For once I agree, the distinction between "We're friends" and "we aren't not friends" is subtle but nonetheless useful and it'd be a shame to see it go

I really like this example. And if you're actually saying it to someone, the difference is even less subtle. "We aren't not friends." This proves that there are some things that are best explained by using double negatives. So yeah, double negatives can be good.

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Re: A small topic not undedicated to Double Negatives

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:07 pm UTC

Well the debate as I've always seen it is about using double (or more) negatives when, logically, there is only a single negation of anything in the sentence. In this case, though, you actually negate the negative, and so double negation does what it (logically) seems like it ought to do.
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Re: A small topic dedicated to Double Negatives

Postby zahlman » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:42 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
zahlman wrote:* See what I did there with the preposition placement? Muahaha.

Yes. You mangled your sentence beyond any significant comprehensibility. Good job!


I was being somewhat facetious, but really, I don't find it any harder to read this way.

Quixotess wrote:As for "Is it not true that," that's not even a double negative, that's just different syntax.


I'm a programmer. I expect "is it not true that" to mean "is it false that", for the reason that "not true" normally means "false".

Ditto "all that glitters is not gold" which has the strength of an aphorism (we tolerate all manner of archaic and unusual things in aphorisms; e.g. "the exception that proves the rule"),


A saying which seems to be fairly often misunderstood as a result :)

and its more famous inversion "All that is gold does not glitter" has the reason of poetry. Sound and rhythm are very good reasons for unusual syntax, just ask Shakespeare.


"Not all that glitters is gold" sounds quite pleasantly metric to me. But really, it makes a huge difference if you're not treating it as a special case, and there isn't any particular reason to treat it as a special case. Consider for example "not all people are literate" versus "all people are not literate".

MSTR wrote:*zahlman: It seemed appropriate to me to solve the problem of beginning a sentence with your username by using the same solution Munroe prefers, hence the all-caps.


FWIW: There's no need to shout. I don't care if you capitalize it or not. The main reason I don't is because I'm lazy. :)

gmalivuk wrote:Well the debate as I've always seen it is about using double (or more) negatives when, logically, there is only a single negation of anything in the sentence. In this case, though, you actually negate the negative, and so double negation does what it (logically) seems like it ought to do.


The way I've seen it is that it's confusing to some people that multiple negatives could be used in either way, and you have to put in some effort to decide on which it is.

People counter with arguments about pluralization and gender-marking. To which I say, negation is fundamentally unlike emphasis. It's a toggle (assuming the same thing is being re-negated).
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Re: A small topic not undedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:32 am UTC

My mom, a linguist, actually said, "don't hardly" tonight. I decided not to correct her, because I'm sure what happened was that she wasn't sure what she was going to say, so it came out wrong. INBD. But I do think "hardly" could reasonably be used with a negative verb, like the word 'any', which I mentioned in the thread about rules of proper english.
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Re: A small topic not undedicated to Double Negatives

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:41 am UTC

Yeah, hardly has a more or less negative sense. You use it with any- words, without "not". You don't use it with some- words or no- words. (As in, you say hardly ever, hardly any, hardly anyone. You don't say hardly sometimes, or not hardly any, or hardly no one.) It has the same sense as saying "almost" along with the no- word. As in, "hardly ever" = "almost never", "hardly anything" = "almost nothing", etc.
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Re: A small topic not undedicated to Double Negatives

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:43 am UTC

Yeah, but what's the real semantic difference between anything and nothing; any and none; etc?

I do see that any has an additional meaning. We make use of it in math proofs all the time.
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Re: A small topic not undedicated to Double Negatives

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:14 pm UTC

Rilian wrote:Yeah, but what's the real semantic difference between anything and nothing; any and none; etc?

I never said there was one. At least, in this context, not+any- is the same as no-. As in, "not anything" = "nothing", "not ever" = "never", etc.

The main difference is, as you say, in the affirmative use of any- words. "It's so easy anyone could do it," or, "Any integer can be expressed as the sum of three primes."

So-called "double negatives", then, tend to simply be instances of using not along with a no- word, instead of an any- word as you're supposed to do in "proper" English.
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Re: A small topic not undedicated to Double Negatives

Postby cooldude76 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:46 pm UTC

Why do you hate Double Negatives?

They were used to show emphasis for hundreds of years. My family is always getting angry at me for saying "Irregardless" which actually means "With regard too" as apposed to "regardless" which means without regard. I like it, and it makes me sound smart (esp. when I can explain the whole double negatives and history nonsense). But its up to you. I dun not luv nah none not negatives.
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