Positive anymore?

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Jun 9 13:40:17 UTC 2001

Your "positive anymore" (PA) has got more than a few wrinkles to it,
and its acceptability is varied regionally, in ways which are not yet
completely understood.

First, some people will accept it in final positon but not in first
(although many reject both):

I'm tired anymore.
Anymore I'm tired.

Second, it appears to wokr within embedded/relative clauses.

I know who works here anymore (bad for PA nonusers)
I know who doesn't work here anymore (OK)

But, some verbs allow negatives to "raise" out of the second clause
into the higher one.

I think he doesn't work here anymore (OK)
I don't think he works here anymore (also, surprisingly, OK, due,
some would say, to the fact that the negative is raised from  the
"work" clause to the "think" clause)

Third, nonfinite clauses seem to exhibit the same properties:

We laughed at his being tired anymore (ubgly for PA haters)
We didn't laugh at his being tired anymore (careful, if you relate
the "anymore" to "didn't laugh," this is OK even for PA haters, but I
mean for the "anymore" to be related to "being tired" and still ugly
for PA haters

But, negative raising can also happen with nonfinites

We didn't consider him to be president anymore (again, surprsingly
good even for PA haters, where "consider" is apparently the sort of
verb - like "think") - which allows the attachment of the negative
from the lower clause.

Finally, and drawing closer to the question at hand, there appears to
be some variation in PA acceptability after "inherently negative"

I don't like working anymore (OK even for PA haters)
I like working anymore (ugh for PA haters)
I don't despise working anymore (OK)
I despise wokring anymore (OK even for some PA haters)

In the question at hand, then, I would say that it is not the "don't"
of the first sentence but the negative force of "be tough to" of the
sentence in question which makees the apparent PA better for some.

Labov (in "Where do grammars stop? Georgetown Round Table 23, 1972
[published in '73 as Monograph Series #25, grrrrrr!]) propses an
implicational scale wihich is sensitive to this "negative
presupposition," suggesting that PA haters will "decreasingly" like
the following:

It's impossible to do that anymore
It's so hard to do that anymore
It's hard to do that anymore'
It;'s easy to do that aymore.

larry will doubtless help clear this up further.


PS: Oooops! I forgot to answer the question of whether or not this is
a case of PA. Of course, the anmswer is "depends."

>Here's a quote from the latest "Entertainment Weekly".  I think it's a
>"positive anymore" but I wasn't sure if it counts because of the "don't" in
>the first sentence.  So, does it count or not?
>Entertainment Weekly, #600, June 15, 2001, p. 14, Hot Sheet #11, by Jim Mullen
>11. Celeb homes:  They don't seem to seel like they used to.  It's tough to
>say "$10 million bargain" straight-faced anymore.
>Douglas S. Bigham
>Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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