positive anymore

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Fri May 19 17:54:23 UTC 2006

Right--it's the reversal of the whole shebang, as Chris says, that causes
the confusion.  But Chris's Savile Row tailor didn't need to get his needs
+ p.p. from Ohio/Pennsylvania; it's common in northern England (where
Cumbria is), Scotland, and Ireland--the areas from which most of the
American Midland's first settlers came.  The double modal auxiliary also
comes from that same area.

At 12:10 PM 5/19/2006, you wrote:
>As a native speaker of a dialect that does not use "positive anymore,"
>allow me to add that when I first heard it (sentence-initially, of course)
>my reaction was similar to Chris's:  I thought I knew what the speaker was
>trying to say, but the sense of weirdness was so strong as to make me
>doubt it.  Decades later, the sense of weirdness has mostly disappeared,
>but I still feel unable to use the word in a sentence with complete
>confidence that I knew what I was talking about.
>   "Might could" struck me as very weird for a long time, but not nearly
> as strange as this.
>   JL
>"Chris F. Waigl" <chris at LASCRIBE.NET> wrote:
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: "Chris F. Waigl"
>Organization: rather inconsistent
>Subject: Re: positive anymore
>On Thu, 2006-05-18 at 15:02 -0400, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
> > And of course positive "anymore" can appear sentence-initially, -medially,
> > or -finally. The first question I got was "But what does it MEAN?"
>This non-native speaker finds it extremely hard to intuitively grasp
>positive anymore: I keep repeating to myself "substitute 'nowadays',
>substitute 'nowadays' -- and look if it makes any sense". The problem
>is: my brain wants to latch on "still".
>Let me illustrate this the way I used to back when I taught English to
>teenagers -- it's prettier in coloured chalk on a blackboard, but if you
>use a fixed-width font, you'll see what I mean.[1]
>Let's look at a "state" (something that might or might not be true at
>any given point in time) and the four basic "change of state" adverbs.
>For example: "The milk is [not yet|still|not anymore|now] hot." [modulo
>adverb placement]
>There's a time axis to the right; an x denotes a moment when the
>utterance is true, an underscore one when it is false:
>------------------------------------------------------> T
>past present future
>not yet _________________________|_________xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>still xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx_____________________
>not anymore xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx_______|______________________________
>now(adays) __________________xxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>So "not anymore" means something like "it used to be true, but stopped
>being true some time in the past, isn't true now and probably won't be
>true in the future, at least not without external intervention."
>If I take away the "not", how much of this gets reversed? What my
>intuition would like to do is just to negate the crucial bit in the
>middle, i.e. to extend the "truth period" beyond "now" and make it stop
>being true only some time in the future, as opposed to some time in the
>past. This comes down to the sense of "still".
>What "positive anymore" apparently does, however, is to reverse the
>entire shebang ("it used to be false, but became true some time in the
>past, is true now and probably will be true in the future, if nothing
>external comes in and stops it").
>In the "need + past participle" department, I came across this on the
>blog of a Saville Row tailor, who splits his time between London, trips
>to big cities (esp. in the US) and Cumbria, where he has his workshop
>and grew up. So despite his travels, I doubt there's an influence from
>Ohio/Pennsylvania. He recounts an experience with a particular customer:
>I was perhaps a little over-optimistic on how fitted I wanted to make
>the jacket. He was a little concerned with the weight he'd put on with
>all the travelling. No problem, this is what it's all about. I'd re-cut
>it and all would be well. After another few months we got together
>again. We could've tweaked the jacket and the suit would have gone home
>to its new owner. But I wasn't happy; the coat needed let out further.
>Chris Waigl
>[1] The way I usually did this was to focus on actions or events, and
>graph "already", "not yet", "never" and "ever" [the last two because
>they are hard for French native speakers, who tend to erroneously
>believe that "never" corresponds to "jamais"], and then throw in "still"
>and "not anymore".
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