"make no mistake"

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Fri Nov 14 16:01:16 UTC 2008

On Nov 14, 2008, at 7:46 AM, Mark Mandel wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "make no mistake"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Arnold, you give the quotation as
>  You should make no mistake this is anything else but a war.
> but you describe it as
>  but in the quote above, we have "make no mistake" with a "that"-
>  complement conveying a negative assertion
> Did you accidentally omit the "that" in typing the audio example, or
> did you mean (that) the optional complementizer was omitted?

oops.  i was looking ahead to the cases with an explicit
complementizer.  there was a "zero complementizer" in the original.

> As transcribed by you, with no "that", the parsing depends on prosody.
> With a pause, as could be written
>  You should make no mistake: This is anything else but a war.
> the construction would not be novel or ambiguous.

i didn't detect a pause in the original.  but now here's the problem.

   You should make no mistake: This is anything else but a war.

is ok, but "This is anything else but a war" here conveys 'this is not
a war', while the intention of the original was to convey 'this is
nothing else but a war, this is a war, and nothing else, make no
mistake about that'.

arnold, getting one of his negation headaches

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