Don't let's

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 16 23:49:07 UTC 2008

At 2:33 PM -0800 1/16/08, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>As far as I can tell, it seems to be akin to doubling up modals, similar
>to saying "I must should". (I know people use that in some dialects, but
>it is still seems ungrammatical for me.) BB

Well, it might be, but there's no correlation in terms of who finds
these grammatical.  (I don't speak double-modal natively, but I might
could learn.)  I'm still not sure (maybe this is what Ron was getting
at) that it makes sense to describe a construction that's widely
attested and that many speakers are comfortable with as
"ungrammatical" tout court, as opposed to "ungrammatical for me".
Maybe this is a tempest in a teapot, but while I'm already somewhat
uncomfortable with the use of "ungrammatical" for forms that are
dialectally restricted, I guess I'm especially sensitive to it when
it's my own dialect which is so characterized!  Don't let's quarrel
about terminology...


>Baker, John wrote:
>>         Can you explain why it is ungrammatical?  It isn't something I
>>would say (I don't recall seeing the collocation before I came across
>>the title "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight"), but surely "don't
>>let's" is just an abbreviation for "do not let us," which seems to me
>>perfectly grammatical.
>>John Baker
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
>>Of Benjamin Barrett
>>Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 4:33 PM
>>Subject: Re: Don't let's
>>I'm sorry, but I did not say I'm uncomfortable with it. I said it is
>>ungrammatical. Perhaps it fits into a chronolect as you say, but as far
>>as I can tell, it is not a comfort issue for me, it is simply
>>grammatically unacceptable.
>>The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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