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RealityChuck
01-20-2000, 01:51 PM
I'd guess the "double negative as positive" occured in the 19th century, since that was the golden age of language pedantry (when they decided you couldn't split an infinitive or end a sentence with a preposition).

It's also obviously false. "No, never" does not mean "yes" and never did. And no one would ever interpret "I don't have no money" as a claim to riches. Language isn't math.

The "two negatives make a positive" was just a rationalization for an arbitrary rule. Better to just say it's an arbitrary rule and be done with it.


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"East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does." -- Marx

Read "Sundials" in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction. www.sff.net/people/rothman (http://www.sff.net/people/rothman)

Elmer J. Fudd
01-20-2000, 02:01 PM
We don't take kindly to no pedantry 'round these parts, no how!

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Elmer J. Fudd,
Millionaire.
I own a mansion and a yacht.

Patty O'Furniture
01-20-2000, 03:24 PM
I also think that the "two negatives makes a positive" rule was brought about by those who wished to have a big grammer stick to beat people up with.

Johnny Angel
01-20-2000, 03:26 PM
I think our modern language wonks are asleep at the wheel. How did "nu-kyu-ler" become an acceptable pronunciation and yet we still cannot accept that a double negative is a strong negative?

The use of the double negative as a strong negative is semantically regular -- it follows rules, and everbody knows when they hear it that it's not meant to be read as a positive.

Let's try a little test. See if you can tell me which of the following is a strong negative, and which is a positive:

1) "He ain't no ordinary Joe."
2) "He was not unhappy."
3) "Neither did she not care."
4) "Don't give me no lip."

Irishman
01-20-2000, 11:40 PM
All the examples you show of a double negative being a stronger negative are poor grammar. If you're going to discount the rules of grammar, you can do anything you want.

There's formal language, and informal language; written and verbal forms. Plus slang, and colloquialisms, and geographic differences. You say potato, I say french fry.

Jinx
01-21-2000, 12:07 AM
It's been drilled into our heads that a double negative makes a positive. Yet, in Shakespeare's day (as reflected in his work) a double negative simply intensified the point. (In other words, it was really, really bad!)

So, WHEN did this idea of a double neagtive being interpreted as a positive come from? (I really doubt it was algebraic theory.)

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A no-no is a YES!