positive polarity "can help it"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 5 21:26:17 UTC 2009

At 4:15 PM -0500 1/5/09, Mark Mandel wrote:
>"People will be playing these games in a hundred years, hopefully...
>at least if I can help it."
>Peter Hirschberg, collector and maintainer of old arcade games. In
>interview at
>Near the end, about 4:40 out of 5:04.
>Mark Mandel
Positive context rhetorically, but it's in an antecedent of
conditional, which certainly helps.

"...hopefully--at least if I have anything to say about it"
*I had anything to say about it

Crucially, this is still a "non-veridical" environment, one in which
there's no certainty that the speaker "can help it" or "has anything
to say about it", and that seems to suffice for some negative
polarity items.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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