hypernegative "miss not" in Hemingway

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 8 11:10:16 UTC 2011

Like "is is," "beg the question," "for you and I," etc., "miss...not"
is "standard" live-TV and cable news English.

I'm not kidding. Exceptions to these rules appear to be infrequent,
regardless of speaker.


On Sat, Oct 8, 2011 at 3:23 AM, Eric Nielsen <ericbarnak at gmail.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Eric Nielsen <ericbarnak at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: hypernegative "miss not" in Hemingway
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> "I miss not being there" seems to be fairly common: 36 results in GB;
> 210,000 results in plain old Goog.
> Eric
> On Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 4:14 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>wrote:
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>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      hypernegative "miss not" in Hemingway
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> One of the betes noires of the prescriptivists is "miss not Xing" in the =
>> sense of 'miss Xing'.  Here, for example, is Lederer:
>> Let's look at a number of familiar English words and phrases that turn =
>> out to mean the opposite or something very different from what we think =
>> they mean: I really miss not seeing you. Whenever people say this to me, =
>> I feel like responding, =93All right, I'll leave!=94 Here speakers throw =
>> in a gratuitous negative, _not_, even though _I really miss seeing you_ =
>> is what they want to say.
>> OK, a classic instance of hypernegation in colloquial language, =
>> presumable edited out of careful prose.  The examples I had previously =
>> collected are from informal speech, TV dialogue, blogs, etc.  But here =
>> is Ernest Hemingway, writing in _A Moveable Feast_, describing an =
>> ill-fated trip in the 1920's he had taken with Scott Fitzgerald from =
>> Paris to Lyon and back.  Fitzgerald comes across as gifted but quite =
>> unsympathetic--malingering, self-indulgent, drunk, and needy, who is now =
>> ordering Hemingway to fetch a thermometer to confirm that he =
>> (Fitzgerald) is dying of "congestion of the lungs". Hemingway is fed up, =
>> reflecting (at least in retrospect--he actually wrote the manuscript =
>> decades later in 1960) as follows:
>> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
>> Scott was lying with with his eyes closed, breathing slowly and =
>> carefully and, with his waxy color and his perfect features, he looked =
>> like a little dead crusader. I was getting tired of the literary life, =
>> if this was the literary life that I was leading, and already I missed =
>> not working and I felt the death loneliness that comes at the end of =
>> every day that is wasted in your life. I was very tired of Scott and of =
>> this silly comedy, but I found the waiter and gave him the money to buy =
>> a thermometer and a tube of aspirin and ordered two _citron presse's_ =
>> and two double whiskies.
>> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
>> [_A Moveable Feast_, New York: Scribner's Sons, 1964, p. 165-66]
>> It's clear from the context that what Hemingway reports missing is =
>> *working*, not *not working*.=20
>> Does anyone have any examples handy of other literary (pleonastic) "miss =
>> not"s?  I didn't find anything terribly interesting via Google Books, =
>> and I couldn't find a relevant entry in the OED under "miss".
>> LH=
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