[Ads-l] A positive _anymore_ in Britspeak?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jul 13 03:24:05 UTC 2018

This isn’t necessarily positive "anymore”, since it’s in the antecedent of a conditional, which (unlike, say, the consequent of a conditional) is a licensing environment for negative polarity items like “any”, “ever”, “lift a finger”—

If you ever eat any of that you’ll suffer ill effects.
*If you eat that, you’ll ever suffer any ill effects.

If you lift a finger to help him, you’ll regret it.
If he lifts a finger to help you, I’ll be surprised.

If you so much as move a muscle, you’re a dead man.

These aren’t positive “ever”s, “any”s, etc., just negative polarity items in non-overtly negative contexts.  

Labov and others have pointed to variation in acceptability for “anymore” in various frames; for many speakers, negative polarity items are especially at home in antecedents of conditionals with negative outcomes including threats, as in the example you cite, which sounds fine to me (as a non-positive “anymore” speaker).   

That’ s not to say true positive “anymore” is absent from British English.  It’s been associated with Scots-Irish varieties, and even in Midlands-speak:

“Suffering bores me any more”
—Birkin in _Women in Love_, as cited in the OED and elsewhere 


> On Jul 12, 2018, at 11:09 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> Heard in a scene in some random flick in which an asswipe of an HR clark😜
> puts in her place a woman who, merely on the basis of her qualifications,
> asks him whether there mightn't😜 be a position available superior to the
> one that he has offered her:
> "I've just told you what's on offer! If you're going to waste my time,
> _anymore_, then, quite frankly, you can sling your hook!"
> Green's: sling one's hook "to leave"
> -- 
> -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 - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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