[Ads-l] as well = either

Stanton McCandlish smccandlish at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 6 02:25:05 UTC 2019

I suspect the 1884 quote ("[I]t's such a good thing the other one isn't bad
as well.") means 'It's such a good thing the other one isn't also bad',
though in theory it could mean "Additionally, it's such a good thing the
other one isn't bad', depending on the surrounding context. But it may not
be an unrelated sort of construction, and this type could even be the
origin of the odd "as well = either" sense.  Even in the 1884 passage, only
two things seem to be under consideration, a situation that would often
call for "[n]either".  (That said, I don't think I would use "either" in
the case of the 1884 sentence; for me, the word is more comparative and not
really used that way. I'd precede with "also" or end with "too".]

Just the relative frequency of "as well" in BrEng versus AmEng makes me
wonder if this is a Briticism that is porting over via BBC.  I don't find
an entry about it at Ben Yagoda's https://notoneoffbritishisms.com/ (yet?).

Stanton McCandlish
McCandlish Consulting
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Oakland CA 94601-5516

+1 415 234 3992


On Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 5:32 AM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>

> I haven't checked the OED, because even if it's there, it's still worthy of
> comment.
> For some years - maybe five, maybe less, just guessing - I've been noticing
> cable news anchors using "as well" in negative contexts where I can use
> *only* "either."  It's extremely common: it's been a very long time since I
> heard a CNN journalist use "either" in such contexts. (And yes, I *have*
> been paying attention.)
> Excellent Internet ex.,albeit from Malaysia:
> "Facility wise, I can't say much about it as it wasn't so good but it isn't
> bad as well.
> A Google search for the phrase "isn't bad either" turns up 1.3 million raw
> hits.
> "Isn't bad as well" gets 470,000.  Not to be sneezed at, weird as it is.
> At Google Books, "isn't bad as well" gets a single hit - from an English
> story for children (1884):
> "Well, sir, it's such a good thing the other one isn't bad as well."
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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