Nobody Does It Like Sara Lee?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 22 04:04:58 UTC 2005

>My apologies.  I'm just picking up this thread.  Wolfram claimed in his
>early analysis of Shuy's Detroit data that structures such as "nobody
>neg V" was a case of double negatives being positive.  In this case,
>"nobody doesn't like" = "everybody likes."  Larry's example of
>"Everybody doesn't like something" as a syntactic precursor raises
>interesting questions about negation and scope (everybody DOESN'T like
>something, BUT NOBODY DOESN'T like Sara Lee).  In this case do four
>negatives make a positive?

I think it only makes sense to talk about double, triple, or single
negatives within a given clause, so the first clause has a single
negative and the second clause has a double one, but that doesn't add
really up to three.  The "but" wouldn't count as a negative, although
it implicates or presupposes a contrast, here precisely the contrast
between the negative nature of the first clause and the positive
(because doubly negated) character of the second.


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