Syntactic change/

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Sat Apr 22 15:40:31 UTC 2006

At 11:48 PM 4/21/2006, you wrote:
>>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."
>With "just" to signal the free choice reading, the fronting of "not"
>isn't required for a lot of speakers.  Here's one caught in the wild
>(Yale Daily News):
>"When our spirits most need a lift, just any old frock won't do."
>Obviously, "not just any old frock won't do" is also possible, but
>the other order is as well.  Doing a little armchair field work on
>google, I find a Willie Nelson song "Any Old Arms Won't Do", a George
>Strait song "Any Old Love Won't Do", and an article in the Orange
>County Register "When Just Any Jeans Won't Do".  ("any old", like
>"just any", disambiguates in the direction of free choice "any", as
>in "She doesn't date any linguist" vs. "She doesn't date any old
>linguist", although here it introduces another ambiguity.)
>Here are a couple for "anything can't happen":
>In reality "anything" CAN'T happen, because the heroes always come
>through safe and sound with very few scars.
>When FinCOM agents are training with SEAL teams anything can't
>happen, they have rules.
>Here's a couple with the "no" meaning, via googling "any team can't".
>These sound worse to me than the ones above that directly deny
>"anything can ..." :
>Any team can't be "on" every game
>It is correct that any team can't win everytime
>The American Dialect Society -

I agree, "just any" with negative is OK for me too.

The American Dialect Society -

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