(neither) nor

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue May 8 16:21:52 UTC 2007

And if, instead of "nor," it said "neither" (or "nother") alone in that position ("Kent Smith neither anyone [else] . . ."), it would be good Middle English. For late-modern times, the OED ("neither" adv. [conj.] 2a) gives only Caribbean uses of "neither" sans "nor."

I'm not sure about "neither," but I have heard black speakers in Texas use "either" in a parallel way: "We're going to serve ham either chicken" (where ME would most often have "other").

Of course, historically "or" is a contraction of "other," while "other" and "either" have been closely associated for reasons of phonology and semantics--if not etymology.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Tue, 8 May 2007 08:24:00 -0700
>From: "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>Subject: Re: (neither) nor
>On May 8, 2007, at 7:25 AM, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>> Has anyone ever heard this kind of phrase sans "neither": "Kent Smith nor anyone from that office was present . . . ." The meaning was clearly "neither KS nor anyone else ...."

>lovely.  surely there are more cites to be found.  the negative disjunction is signaled perfectly well by "nor" (that is, the "neither" is, technically, redundant), and for positive disjunction, both "either... or" and simple "or" (without "either") are possible, so simple "nor" would be an entirely natural development.
>>(query: are there good treatments of the alternation between "either... or" and simple "or"?)
>as far as i can tell, MWDEU doesn't mention simple "nor".  it does have treatments of "neither... or" and of "nor" for "or" in negative contexts.

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