positive anymore

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Fri May 19 22:36:21 UTC 2006


You'll get an answer from Bethany on "might could," Wilson!

At 05:39 PM 5/19/2006, you wrote:
>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:
>>
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>-----------------------
>>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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>
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