Don't let's

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Thu Jan 17 03:37:24 UTC 2008

I'm glad you had a similar reaction of double modals. As your follow-up
shows, it's a little more complicated than that, though.

FWIW, my 43-year-old Tucsonite friend basically said what you are
saying. Since he doesn't have any linguistic background, I couldn't
figure out exactly what his point was, but I think you've given him a
voice vicariously.

I'm not sure what you mean by contractions being temporal, so no. BB

James Harbeck wrote:
> I first saw "don't let's" in an Asterix comic when I was a kid. I
> thought it was a bit odd but I understood it and accepted it. I'm not
> used to hearing it in real life, though. "Do not let us" is
> persuasively grammatical, but the pattern of contraction is
> exceptional to me, as I'm used to "don't" and "let's" as separate
> largely unanalyzed auxiliaries, and stacking them together has a sort
> of "shouldn't might" feel -- that is, I don't automatically process
> "don't let's" as "do not let us" but rather as particles signifying a
> negative command and a positive command. Also, "let's" is normally a
> contraction of an imperative and a pronoun, but in "don't let's" it's
> an infinitive and a pronoun, and we're not normally in the habit of
> contracting infinitives, are we? I might have missed this in my quick
> reading of the copious daily emails -- Benjamin Barrett, have you
> already made this point about contractions being temporal?

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