[Ads-l] Is positive-anymore spreading?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 31 00:31:40 UTC 2016

> On Aug 29, 2016, at 9:49 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> In an Arby's commercial:
> "It barely fits on the bun, _anymore!_"
> I don't know whether this commercial is peculiar to NE PA, where
> positive-anymore is the norm, or whether the campaign - for chicken
> sandwiches - is national.
Well, positive "anymore" does seem to be expanding somewhat, but this isn't an instance of it.  For me, and many other non-positive "anymore" speakers, this is just an instance of negative polarity items licensed by "barely", which (like "only") behaves like a negative term because the point of such an utterance is negative, despite the positive implication.  That is, when Arby's says it barely fits on the bun anymore the point is that it almost doesn't fit on the bun anymore (even though it actually still does).  Compare "almost", which we non-positive "anymore" speakers can't get in the same environment:  "It almost fits on the bun anymore".  Pretty bad, right?  So as we used to say, this is a fact about "barely", not a fact about "anymore".  Compare other negative polarity items:

He {barely/*almost} lifted a finger to help us.
She {barely/*almost} touched a drop of that wonderful cocktail I made for her.
They {barely/*almost} drank any of the punch.

Or just drop the "barely" in the Arby's commercial or any of these examples and you'll get the same results.

So in short, NE PA is a well-attested positive "anymore" area, but you can't prove it by Arby's commercials with "barely".


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list