Squat -- revisited
Rudolph C Troike
rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU
Tue May 28 04:30:36 UTC 2002
I'm sure that Larry, as the leading guru of negation, will jump on this,
but it's worth noting that Rick's source does not contain "I have squat",
but rather "Nobody else got squat", so there clearly IS a negative in the
sentence. Because the sentence begins with an indefinite, the negative is
attracted to it, rather than winding up in the verb phrase as "not". (Cf.
"John/Those guys didN'T get squat", vs the ungrammatical "*Everybody
didn't get squat". Everybody did NOT get --> Nobody got .)
> Date: Mon, 27 May 2002 12:09:45 -0400
> From: Rick Kennerly <rick at MOUSEHERDER.COM>
> Subject: Squat - revisited
> This afternoon, reading through the Smithsonian, March 2002, p. 50, in an
> article about pigeon racing called Flights of Fancy I found this:
> "Back to the cell phone. 'Yo, you heard? Bert & Harry got one at 2:16. I
> ain't kidding. Nobody else got squat. I haven't seen a feather.'" The
> speaker is waiting for his racing birds to fly in to NYC from West Virginia.
> I've always equated squat with a genteel euphemism shit. One can certainly
> interchange the two in most usages and convey the same meaning--nothing
> valuable or a degree less than valuable. Paired with piddly (piddly-squat,
> a favorite exclamation of disappoint my mother uses), squat is a rather
> graphic bathroom image that evokes nothing worth having or keeping.
> The phrase "I got squat" is reminiscent of "I could care less", both ironic
> positive constructions of the negative condition ("I ain't got squat"; "I
> couldn't care less.").
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