Replying to a negative question

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Dec 24 05:47:34 UTC 2007

At 12/24/2007 12:22 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>At 4:03 PM -0500 12/23/07, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>At 12/23/2007 02:46 PM, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>>>On Dec 23, 2007, at 11:03 AM, Joel Berson wrote:
>>>>... Wasn't the word that prompted the "vl cluster spotting" chain
>>>>"vlog"?  And no, I will refrain from telling you the various
>>>>Dutch/Afrikaans words either.
>>>Joel, did you want to stick to the form of that last sentence?  if so,
>>>what's the "either" doing?  (and the "no", for that matter?)
>yes, I noticed those too...
>>I cannot defend my last sentence strongly, you must excuse it as a
>>non-peer-reviewed (until now!) email submission.  But to explain, the
>>"no" and "either" were in response to the following sentence from
>>Dennis Preston:
>>>please don't write in and tell me about the "English" word
>>>Vladivostok and other borrowed stuff)
>>which I unfortunately snipped from my response.  (My "no" should
>>probably have been "yes", but I think I had started my thinking with
>>"no, I will not tell you ... ".
>That was going to be my hypothesis, following Jespersen on blends (as
>Bolinger or Jerry Cohen would call them) or "fusions" (as Jespersen
>himself referred to them), e.g. in "I miss not seeing you" or other
>instances of resumptive and sympathetic negation following verbs of
>denial, doubting, hindering, forbidding, etc.) or in comparative
>clauses.  Curiously (but not, I think, ironically), I was just
>reading Jespersen on such constructions while trying to whip an ADS
>paper into shape for the none-too-distant future.   Here it's "No, I
>will not tell you either" + "I will refrain from telling you", or the

There are also differences from English in other languages, such as
Japanese, I believe.  (If a native Japanese speaker is asked a
question in English phrased in the negative, he is likely to reply
"no" when the native English speaker would reply "yes", and vice versa.)


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