[Ads-l] Someone philosophically asks:

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 21 23:59:12 EST 2016


> On Dec 21, 2016, at 11:45 PM, Kate Svoboda-Spanbock <katesvobodaspanbock at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> Maybe it isn’t intent exactly but there does seem to be a pointedness of some kind when you split it that doesn’t seem to be there when you don’t.
> 
> Is it possible that the examples you use - trying and happening - are so strong in their relationship to intent that they color it? 
> 
> What about ‘not wanting to go’ and ‘wanting to not go’? Doesn’t the latter seem stronger? Or ‘not having to go’ and ‘having to not go’?
> 
> 

Hey, wait a minute—you’re moving the goalposts.  “Not wanting to go” is an instance of what’s often called “neg-raising”; while the verb “want” is negated, the negation belongs semantically to the lower clause. (Some argue that the negation originates in the embedded clause and “raises” to the main clause, hence the name.)  This is different from both of the examples we were talking about earlier, which would in the case of “want” be represented by “wanting not to go” and “wanting to not go”.  It’s the latter two that don’t seem to involve a difference in intent.  Neg-raising is a phenomenon that applies to some predicates (like “want”, “believe”, and “think”) and not to others (like “try” or, in your example, “have to”), for reasons discussed extensively by linguists.  In the case of “have to”, there’s only one position the embedded or subordinate clause negation can occupy:  “You have to not go”. In this case, “You have not to go” is impossible for most U.S. English speakers.  And “You don’t have to go” involves main clause negation and the meaning is entirely different—denying the necessity of doing something as opposed to imposing necessity to avoid doing something. 

When the [VERB1 not to VERB2] and [VERB1 to not VERB2] are both possible, as with “happen”, “try”, “want”, or even “say” (He said not to go/He said to not go), the difference between the two versions is very subtle—for those who don’t object to splitting the infinitive.  If you’re bringing main clause negation into the picture [not VERB1 to VERB2], it’s a very different picture.  

LH
> 
> 
> 
> On Dec 21, 2016, at 7:19 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
> 
>>> On Dec 21, 2016, at 8:11 PM, Kate Svoboda-Spanbock <katesvobodaspanbock at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>> 
>>> I was told never to split the infinitive - even with ‘not’.
>>> 
>>> This has always seemed unreasonable, in that it seems to me that ‘to not V’ indicates intent in some way, where ‘not to V’ sounds like you just didn’t happen to do it? 
>> 
>> I’m not sure it’s that straightforward.  “I tried not to do it” and “I tried to not do it” both seem pretty clearly to indicate intent, and “I happened not to do it” and “I happened to not do it” both seem pretty clearly not to.  I think any distinction will have to be subtler than +/- intent, and quite possibly verb-specific.  
>> 
>> LH
>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On Dec 21, 2016, at 4:08 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 6:51 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>> disapproval of BE DONE
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> I had no idea that it was ever "officially," so to speak, disapproved of
>>>> and I've never heard anyone "low-rate" or "rank" the usage. I came to the
>>>> conclusion that BE DONE was "wrong" all by myself - or should that be the
>>>> formerly-Britspeak "on my own"? - based on my personal experience that BE
>>>> DONE was simply not used, except by an - or should that be the
>>>> formerly-Britspeak "the"? - occasional member of the great unwashed, until
>>>> I found myself in this part of the country and in my current social milieu,
>>>> where *everybody* routinely uses _done_ in environments in which I'm
>>>> accustomed to hearing only _through_.
>>>> 
>>>> In like manner, I have the feeling that splitting an infinitive with _not_,
>>>> as in "To _not_ boldly go..." as opposed to "_Not_ to boldly go..." is
>>>> something brand-new that I've never heard before. It's not something that
>>>> I've been specifically taught not to - or should that be "to not"? - use,
>>>> as is the case with "consensus _of opinion_." Well, of course I was taught
>>>> not to split an infinitive in general, but nothing was ever said
>>>> specifically about not splitting an infinitive with _not_, because no one
>>>> ever split an infinitive with _not_, AFAIK.
>>>> 
>>>> Of course, now that I live a thousand miles and fifty years from where I
>>>> learned to speak English, I find that "to not V" and "not to V" are
>>>> probably in about equal use, judging by what I hear on TV. Besides, nobody
>>>> sweats the stylistic crap anymore, anyhow. Can what's spoken or what's
>>>> written eventually be understood by the hearer or by the reader? Yes? Then,
>>>> it's good enough. The days when speech or writing was edited to reflect
>>>> "proper English usage" before it was published in the Daily Blade or in
>>>> NewsTIME are long gone. It ain't no days like that, no more.
>>>> 
>>>> BTW, I'm surprised that you present an argumentum ex auctoritate. MWDEU or
>>>> any other authority can never keep up with usage. Besides, it's merely an
>>>> opinion, in any case.
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> -- 
>>>> -Wilson
>>>> -----
>>>> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
>>>> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>>>> -Mark Twain
>>>> 
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=CwIF-g&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=_m4h2J9Maq186nhHW3nBW48EFUsaGbFl3HQlMbm8tx4&s=tgOgyePqI99fs-2k_Y9lFtr14GIfURAcWyOmL4S_HGE&e= 
>>> 
>>> --
>>> Kate Svoboda-Spanbock
>>> katesvobodaspanbock at gmail.com
>>> 310-880-3091
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
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>>> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=CwIF-g&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=_m4h2J9Maq186nhHW3nBW48EFUsaGbFl3HQlMbm8tx4&s=tgOgyePqI99fs-2k_Y9lFtr14GIfURAcWyOmL4S_HGE&e= 
>> 
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> 
> 
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