That would be precisely what I meant. I merely popped up to say that what he perceived as “standard English” is not something I have ever noticed. Thus, I was questioning his proposed notion of standard English using precisely the same mechanism with which he came to it - my own intuitions about the way I talk.
His original statement suggested that most people don’t find the phrase “didn’t use to” very felicitous; I stated (and still maintain) that it sounds precisely as natural and felicitous as the positive version of it. That only describes my usage, of course - but I think the fact that some standard English speakers disagree with Frylock is enough reason to think it’s not a particular rule of standard English but rather of only his own variety. Incidentally, my experience suggests that “used to” and “didn’t use to” are both confined to informal usage, something I expressed quite clearly, and thus Frylock’s ‘interpretation’ of my statement to read that I find both of them acceptable in all contexts is quite clearly incorrect. He said this: “Could you please provide me with a cite confirming the truth of your view that ‘didn’t use to’ is considered to be perfectly okay usage in all contexts in standard English?” This declaration about what I said is clearly completely incompatible with what I actually did say - which is that both the positive and negative forms are distinctly casual. The only point in which I discussed which contexts either phrase might be used in was to say that I find “didn’t use to” acceptable in every context in which I find “used to” acceptable - which means I find both of very limited acceptability in formal usage.
His attempt to clarify that he wasn’t describing usage at all but rather people’s attitudes towards language doesn’t help, as it still doesn’t describe my attitude, nor that of some others who posted in that thread. Further, it conveniently slides the discussion into the realm of something far less measurable and thus something that can’t really be discussed empirically (my faith in native-speaker grammaticality judgments is limited at best, and in this case I simply can’t imagine how one might gauge the very fine distinction Frylock proposes.)
Frylock, if you thought I meant you were throwing a fit or getting angry then I apologize; I don’t think you were. It’s possible that I implied it; I don’t really care enough to go reread the thread and examine whether my words were precise enough. So if I did imply such a thing, my apologies. But I still think your post in response to mine was simply more than the situation warranted.
My main point remains that his statement
does not describe all speakers; there was no hedging in his post to indicate that he was only describing his own usage and references to standard English suggest that it’s something present in the prestige variety of American English. While no doubt other standard English speakers agree with him, I see no evidence that I am in a small-enough minority that my use of the phrase or my “attitude” towards it is “non-standard”.
The trouble with Frylock’s derailment into shaping his original statement into ever-finer distinctions and his subsequent discussion of styles of argument is that we’re missing the most interesting points about the phrase entirely - for instance, whether it’s an auxiliary verb (one poster in the original thread reported usages of it that seem quite parallel to other auxiliary verbs). Or the interesting fact about its pronunciation that even though it’s obviously related to the more common usage of use, that the S is voiceless (at least for me), which I might argue is evidence of certain auxiliary-like qualities in its standard English use. Or the fact that people more frequently write “didn’t used to” rather than “didn’t use to” - particularly interesting, as the context definitely calls for the plain form of the verb, but in actuality the word is pronounced identically in those two contexts (for me, /'jus t@/, “yoosta”), creating confusion over the proper spelling (and suggesting that the two forms are uncommon in formal writing, as people seem confused about their spelling.)
But Frylock’s continual attempts to convince me simultaneously that his original posts in the thread were correct and that he agrees with me completely made the thread so tiresome that I’m afraid we won’t be able to discuss those interesting phenomena.