Evidence for DECIMATE ('one in ten')

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 10 17:19:51 UTC 2008

Slip of the mind there. The negations in hypernegation constructions like "I
can't get no satisfaction" don't *cancel each other out*, they reinforce
each other. Algebraic cancelling-out is Bishop Lowth's rule.

m a m

On Jan 10, 2008 10:42 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:

> The cases you just mention are not scorned as such by
> prescriptivists, since they don't violate the "duplex negatio
> affirmat" rule that has been insisted on in one form or another at
> least since Bishop Lowth's pronouncements in the 18th century.  It's
> the double negations that cancel out (recently termed "hypernegation"
> or "overnegation") that are strongly condemned (as in "I can't get no
> satisfaction") as illogical.  While these two phenomena are quite
> different, the case of "not un-" sometimes itself comes under
> scrutiny, not for its supposed "illogic" (as in the case of negative
> concord or pleonastic negation) but for its supposed pointlessness or
> pomposity.  (See, for example, Orwell's attempt in "Politics and the
> English language" to laugh the "not un-" construction out of
> existence by citing the sentence "A not unblack dog chased a not
> unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field.")  But the complaints here
> are of quite a different order, and have a different target, from the
> criticism of "I don't want none of that".
> LH

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