Syntactic change/

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Fri Apr 21 22:07:27 UTC 2006

At 05:26 PM 4/21/2006, you wrote:
>>I've heard the any-doesn't construction, but only from a
>>non-native-English-speaking (too many hyphens?) colleague.  I don't have
>>his example handy, but when I cite it to my class, the NSs all look
>>puzzled, as I do.  It's the ambiguity of meaning that's the problem:  Any
>>old 32-bit CPU doesn't fit your needs, only some certain ones do?  No
>>32-bit CPU fits your needs, none at all?  Might the instruction have been
>>written by a NNS, via outsourcing?
>Do you find it impossible to get them even in direct denials with a
>possibility modal, as in
>"No, anybody CAN'T become president"
>"Contrary to what is often claimed, any team CAN'T win the championship"
>"You're wrong--anything ISn't possible"
>"No, any doctor WON'T tell you any such thing"
>and so on, as rebuttals?
>These seem unexceptionable to me, and clearly have the free choice
>interpretation (it is not the case that [for any x, x can VP/x is
>possible]).  I agree that the "no x" interpretation is harder to get,
>but it's not impossible, especially if there's a relative clause on
>the "Any" subject:  "Anybody I know wouldn't go out with Chris".
>The American Dialect Society -

The "any" plus relative clause is marginally acceptable to me, but the
others sound odd, even in rebuttal (the third example might be less odd
than the others).  I have to insert something like "just" and use positive:
No, not just anybody can become president."  But I agree that a direct
rebuttal with any + neg. (esp. with emphasis) is at least interpretable.


The American Dialect Society -

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