it doesn't behoove you

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 3 20:10:12 UTC 2010

On Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 11:10 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â Re: it doesn't behoove you
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 12:11 PM +0100 9/3/10, Lynne Murphy wrote:
>>I don't really see why the Ciudad Juarez example is remarkable. Â Seems like
>>an application of the sense 'be advantageous'. Â It would not be an
>>advantage to you to go to CJ. And an easily accessible implicature from
>>that statement is: 'it would be a disadvantage to you to go'.
> Right, but I agree that it's a bit odd given the environments in
> which "neg-raising", i.e. the association of a higher (main clause)
> negation with a lower (embedded clause) meaning, tends to occur.*
> The classic instances of this phenomenon involve verbs like "want" or
> "think/believe" (or both, as in "I don't think she wants to leave"
> meaning "I think she wants to stay"). Â But we do get these readings
> with modals of weak obligation like "ought to", "should", "better",
> or "supposed to", so "you're not supposed to go" will usually be
> interpreted as "you're supposed to stay". Â The thing is that
> "behoove" might be expected to pattern with stronger obligation verbs
> like "have to", which doesn't license such interpretations (in
> English), so "you don't have to go" isn't read with the meaning "you
> have to stay"
> LH

As exemplifiedd by the blues verse,

Oh, baby, you don't have to go
I'm gonna pack up, darlin'
Down the road I'll go

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

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