positive anymore

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 19 21:39:25 UTC 2006


The first time that I heard positive anymore, I thought that the speaker, a
native Ohioan, was making a joke, so I laughed in his face. Fortunately, our
friendship had already been fully established.

As for "might could," etc., since I'm both black and a native of Texas, such
forms have always stricken me <har! har!> only as being non-standard.

-Wilson

On 5/19/06, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
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> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      Re: positive anymore
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> 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
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> 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.
> http://www.englishcut.com/archives/000188.html
> ----
>
> 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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