(neither) nor

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue May 8 22:43:13 UTC 2007

At 2:51 PM -0700 5/8/07, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Sounds stupid though it's not unprecedented. It contains one less
>place than the alternative. Or maybe the editor doesn't like to
>start a headline with a negative.
>Two thumbs down.

while we're at it, let's retro-edit Shakespeare (All that glisters is
gold), or these others:

All things are lawfull unto me, but all things are not expedient.
        [I Cor. 6:12]
Every one cannot make music.                            [Walton]
Thank heaven, all scholars are not like this.           [Richardson]
All is not lost.                                        [Milton, Shelley]
Each man kills the thing he loves/Yet each man does not die.    [Wilde]

We'd need those thumbs and lots more--universal subjects within the
scope of auxiliary (sentence) negation have always been with us.
Note too that typically in speech the fall-rise vs. straight fall
intonation will disambiguate the construction, as it would in
Beverly's example.  Unfortunately, much is lost (even if all is not
lost) in the reduction to writing.  My current favorite example of an
ambiguous all...not is
"All forms of sexual orientation are not legal."
[Jack Stark, president of Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA,
explaining in a                         November 1989 letter why the
college should reject a proposed non-discrimination policy]


>Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OHIO.EDU> wrote: ----------------------
>Information from the mail header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society
>Poster:       Beverly Flanigan
>Subject:      Re: (neither) nor
>How about this headline from our local newspaper today:
>"All homeowners shouldn't be bailed out" (on the sub-prime loan issue),
>meaning "Not all homeowners should be bailed out."
>How do these stand with you all?
>At 12:51 PM 5/8/2007, you wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society
>>Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky"
>>Subject:      Re: (neither) nor
>>On May 8, 2007, at 9:33 AM, Michael Covarrubias wrote:
>>  > I've been writing little bits and pieces about the "nor" recently.
>>  > Interesting
>>  > to note that in addition to deletion of an initial negative there
>>  > are times when
>>  > this coordination jumps categories. Sometimes it's a very awkward
>>  > union as in:
>>  >
>>  > "I have neither friends nor have enemies."
>>  >
>>  > That sentence sounds very wrong partly because the first "neither"
>>  > negates the
>>  > noun "friends" and the corresponding "nor" applies to the verb
>>  > "have". But it's
>>  > probably _mostly_ because the second "have" sounds repetitive.
>>  > Consider the
>>  > following that has a similar non-parallel structure but avoids the
>>  > repetition:
>>  >
>>  > "I have neither friends nor do I want any."
>>  >
>>  > Not a great sentence but it's okay.
>>Philip Hofmeister at Stanford has looked at non-parallelism in
>>"either... or" -- with the "either" located 'too high' or 'too low'.
>>here are two versions of his analysis:
>>there are similar "neither... nor" and "both... and" examples.
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>Ahhh...imagining that irresistible "new car" smell?
>  Check outnew cars at Yahoo! Autos.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list