[Ads-l] neither/either avoidance

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Nov 11 12:27:28 EST 2017


> On Nov 11, 2017, at 12:16 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
>> sounds affected or literary in a way inappropriate for normal conversation
> 
> Just another sign of the End Times.
> 
> JL

Among other things, “both sides didn’t like the proposal” allows for two interpretations, not-both and (the intended) both-not, although the intonation and/or discourse context may disambiguate, while “neither side liked the proposal” is unambiguous (even if it does sound literary).  (Or, to make the example less literary, “Both of them can’t make it” vs. “Neither of them can make it”.)

LH


> 
> On Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 12:05 PM, Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> 
>> I have a definite dispreference for “neither” though I don’t think I would
>> go that far in avoiding it. The word “neither” sometimes sounds affected or
>> literary in a way inappropriate for normal conversation. Certain
>> constructions like “neither of them” don’t sound too bad but often can be
>> avoided by using “either” with a negative verb.
>> 
>> Benjamin Barrett
>> Formerly of Seattle, WA
>> 
>>> On 11 Nov 2017, at 05:30, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> Ivan Watson, CNN:
>>> 
>>> Both sides were not able to come to [sic] a time for a bilateral meeting.
>>> 
>>> Normal:
>>> 
>>> Neither side was able to come up with a time for a bilateral meeting.
>>> 
>>> JL
>>> 
>>> On Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 8:31 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com
>> <mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>>
>>> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> Call me crazy, but I've noticed that CNN employees don't want to use
>> these
>>>> words.
>>>> 
>>>> Ex.: a short time ago a correspondent in South Korea spoke of Northern
>>>> threats to test missiles near Guam and detonate an H-bomb over the
>> Pacific.
>>>> He said,
>>>> 
>>>> "Both of those things have not happened yet."
>>>> 
>>>> Somewhat similarly, instead of saying, "That hasn't happened either,"
>> the
>>>> almost universal preference is, "That hasn't happened as well."
>>>> 
>>>> While perfectly understandable, these constructions sound as weird to me
>>>> as positive "anymore" once did.
>>>> 
>>>> JL
>> 
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> 
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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