[Ads-l] in one speech two negatives affirm (was: National Grammar Day)

Baron, Dennis E debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU
Mon Mar 7 16:22:09 UTC 2016

I’m sure you all know this, an excerpt from sonnet 63 of Philip Sidney’s sonnet sequence, Astrophil and Stella, composed in the 1580s, but just to point out that Bp Lowth was not the first to declare that two -’s make a +, and of course this fits with “no means no” campaigns on campus today as well, Works nicely in class with Marlon Brando voice when addressing Stella (a few students still get the reference): 

She [Stella] . . . lest once should not be heard, twice said, “No, No.” 

… But grammar’s force with sweet success confirm:
For grammar says (oh this, dear Stella, weigh,)
For grammar says (to grammar who says nay?)
That in one speech two negatives affirm.

Needless to say, Stella doesn’t buy this at all, and Astrophil groans on, declaring his unrequited love for Stella. 


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

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