another meaning reversal

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jun 26 16:46:29 UTC 2010

At 11:09 AM -0400 6/26/10, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>At 6/26/2010 09:40 AM, Rick Barr wrote:
>>The actor who said it was Rob Schneider, and the movie was *Grown-Ups*(2010):
>>"I don't even hardly know them."
>>(The character is referring to his daughters.)
>"I don't even barely know them"?  (I don't see "hardly"as a
>180-degree reversal.)
"Hardly" has a long history of being used in negative concord
constructions like this (and is regularly condemned for it), even by
speakers who don't have full negative concord, i.e. speakers for whom
"I don't hardly drink" or "I didn't hardly believe her", meaning the
same as standard "I hardly drink", "I hardly believed her", are
perfectly natural, although "I don't drink nothing" or "I didn't
believe none of it" are not.  (There are many other speakers, of
course, for whom all of these "double negatives" are totally natural.)

Just looking randomly at the many hits on "don't hardly" and "didn't
hardly" one finds not just many naturalistic examples but usage
complaints of the form:

Bad grammar: They didn't hardly have enough food left.
Good grammar: They hardly have enough food left.

AFAIK, "barely" is less likely to occur in such constructions, but
not impossible.


The American Dialect Society -

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