as well = 'either'

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 13 16:02:16 UTC 2011

On Sep 13, 2011, at 11:46 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> I've been hearing this on TV news several times weekly for at least a couple
> of years.  In fact, just like everybody now seems to say "is is," everybody
> also seems to say things like, "Nobody was hurt there as well."  (In fact,
> everybody now says"just like" instead of "just as" - at least everybody like
> me.)
> I don't believe I've ever heard a non-TV-newsperson use "as well" in this
> way, but maybe I don't get out much.  I do hear "is is."
> This "as well" is obviously reminiscent of positive "anymore."
> But it's still weird. Has "either" somehow come to seem mystifying?
> Irrational? Opaque? Wrong? (Cf. "Never say 'Me either'!")
Wouldn't this just be an extension of "as well" = 'also' or 'in addition' in other contexts?  We've discussed earlier the spread of this "as well" to sentence-initial position, e.g. in broadcast and cablecast news.  (I don't use it myself, but I've certainly become familiar with it.)  I'm not sure why it would be parallel to positive "anymore", since (unlike "anymore") "as well" isn't a negative polarity in the first place; or were you saying it's the opposite of pos. "anymore" in spreading from *positive* contexts to *negative* ones?  (Not that that's necessarily what happened with pos. "anymore", but it's a possible scenario.)  In any case, if we read the above as "Nobody was hurt there, as well" as a word order variant of "There, as well, nobody was hurt", it doesn't seem that exotic.  Or maybe, if you're a sentence-initial "as well" speaker, a variant of "As well, nobody was hurt there."  Crucially, "as well" is outside the scope of the negation and in that respect diffe!
 rent from "either", although the sentences end up meaning pretty much the same thing, as with "*I* didn't see them either" vs. "*I* too didn't see them".


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