Evidence for DECIMATE ('one in ten')

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 10 19:59:57 UTC 2008

At 12:19 PM -0500 1/10/08, Mark Mandel wrote:
>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

yeah, that was supposed to be "It's the double negations that *don't*
cancel out...".  Tricky little bastards, those negatives.


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

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