"so don't I"

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Jan 29 17:44:32 UTC 2002

Whereas "I could care less" is transparent, even out of context (to most of
us anyway), "so don't I" isn't.  When I first heard it years ago, I assumed
it meant "Neither do I," until context made this obviously wrong.  It's
dialectal (extending into New York State too?), and like many dialect
features might not be considered stylistically inappropriate in the home
area, even in headlines.  A similarly non-noticed feature in the South
Midland is the much-discussed p.p. + -ed/-en (needs washed, needs done),
which appears regularly in headlines in southern Ohio.

At 10:33 PM 1/28/02 -0500, you wrote:
>sagehen said:
> > >I think Larry's point (if I may be so bold as to speak for him) was that
> >>in large chunks of New England "so Don't the Pats" isn't at all ambiguous.
> >>  It's just in a stylistic level one wouldn't expect to find in a headline,
> >>  even in Boston.
> >>--
> >>Alice Faber
> > ~~~~~~~~
> >Aren't arresting, slangy headlines  the norm, especially on the sports
> pages?
> >Would this have been clear to New Englanders because this particular
> >inverted  syntax  was common, or because they'd have known the Pats'
> >motives?
>This construction with a pleonastic negative is reasonably widely used,
>though I associate it more with Western Massachusetts than with the Boston
>area. I haven't heard it commented on they way expressions like "I could
>care less" are (where people who argue that it's illogical are clearly
>familiar with the intended meaning but have decided, for whatever reason,
>to be obstreperous about it), but I'd imagine that more people are familiar
>with it than use it.
>As for sports headlines in general, there's a certain "dog bites man"
>quality to a headline asserting that a team wants to win, so (without
>seeing the story, of course), I'd have to suspect some Gricean subtext--why
>are we asserting that which is obviously true? But I couldn't say what use
>of this casual, pleonastic construction contributes to such a subtext.

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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