# Thread: I'm no taller than John?

1. VIP Member
Join Date
Jul 2010
Posts
5,099

## Re: I'm no taller than John?

I think it's a very difficult question. What I'm writing now is the third or fourth version of this post.

I would first rewrite 5jj's original formula:

A 0(>) B --> A = B

I'm still not exactly happy with the idea of the relation ">" being "zeroed", but if that's how most native speakers see this, I must accept. (Now it seems the idea has gained a slight advantage in this thread.) Anyway, I think it will be clearer if we write the 0 next to what it "zeroes", that is the "is larger than" sign. It doesn't matter much in this case, but I believe it's better if we want to generalize the notation to

I don't have no shoes.

Now we could write for example

not (I have 0(shoes)) --> I have (not (0(shoes)) --> I have +(shoes)

where "0" "zeroes" the word "shoes" and "+" means more than 0 or a positive number of. It is very unclear though in my opinion how "zeroing" the relation > and "zeroing" shoes should be similar. "Shoes" are objects, not a relation.

A way of dealing with it could be to treat having no shoes as a relation. Let's denote the number of my shoes by A. Then

I have no shoes.

means

A = 0.

Now, we can write this:

not (A = 0) --> A > 0.

"not (A = 0)" would be a formula denoting

I don't have no shoes.

and "A > 0" would be a formula denoting

I have some shoes.

But this is not similar to 5jj's formula. No relation is "zeroed" here. I just said that "no shoes" means the same as "0 shoes".

There is yet another way in my opinion. We could abandon the thought of "zeroing" relations and rewrite 5jj'sd formula this way:

(distance between A and B) = 0 --> A = B

Now, we interpret "I'm no taller than Tom" as

(distance between A and B) = 0.

My opinion is that the above problems are not to be overcome. But I'd like to see myself proven wrong.
Last edited by birdeen's call; 05-Apr-2011 at 19:13.

2. ## Re: I'm no taller than John?

Originally Posted by birdeen's call
I would first rewrite 5jj's original formula:

A 0(>) B --> A = B
I cannot join in this discussion, because the correct use of '~', '{', '>' , etc is way beyond my non-mathematical mind. I have dropped in here merely to note that I used my 'original formula' only as an attempted response to keannu's original question. I used (or misused) the symbols as I thought keannu had used them.

If my ignorance is clouding the issue, please ignore my use of the symbols.

3. VIP Member
Join Date
Jul 2010
Posts
5,099

## Re: I'm no taller than John?

Originally Posted by fivejedjon
I cannot join in this discussion, because the correct use of '~', '{', '>' , etc is way beyond my non-mathematical mind.
I haven't attempted to use those symbols "correctly" either. As I understand what we're doing here, it's just an attempt to produce some concise strings of symbols that could help a learner understand how the word "no" works. From a mathematician's point of view, most of what I have written above is meaningless. I hope it's not completely meaningless to a regular person though, but I'm not sure this is the case. At least I tried.

4. ## Re: I'm no taller than John?

Originally Posted by birdeen's call
From a mathematician's point of view, most of what I have written above is meaningless.
Dammit! You fooled me.

5. ## Re: I'm no taller than John?

Is it common to use symbols (in the above posts) to try to explain language? I have never seen that before seems really difficult.

With respect to "the no" use ... as a native speaker from Canada my two cents on the matter...

memories of a university presentation....

Person A: Go ahead, you can answer that question, you are so good at explaining stuff.

Person B: ME!? I am no better at explaining stuff than you are!

no better, or no taller ... I also infer that they are similar in ability or height where as not better, not taller I don't infer anything at all.....(hopefully I've used the world infer correctly! will be my next post if I haven't

Not a teacher.

6. Key Member
Join Date
Jan 2009
Posts
1,507

## Re: I'm no taller than John?

Originally Posted by fivejedjon
I should be interested in seeing any data supporting the notion that it is.

From the time that self-appointed arbiters started writing grammars, people have attempted to impose mathematical logic on the language. Some of their efforts succeeded, in the formal written language, at least; others failed. The rule against the emphatic double negative was one of their successes ( though it lives on in speech in some dialects), the 'shall/will' future one of their failures. Points not finally decided include the 'rule' against splitting the infinitive, and the use of the subjunctive in modern BrE.

If the language followed the rules of logic, there would be no irregular verbs, prepositions would all have one 'meaning', all adverbs would end in 'ly', ...
We seem to be at cross-purposes here. I am referring to simple inferential logic (an aspect of semantics), whilst you appear to be referring to regularity of form (an aspect of morphology)...

7. ## Re: I'm no taller than John?

Originally Posted by philo2009
We seem to be at cross-purposes here. I am referring to simple inferential logic (an aspect of semantics), whilst you appear to be referring to regularity of form (an aspect of morphology)...
I don't think we are really at cross-purposes.

It appeared to me that you, in post #5, were using what you now call inferential logic to prove that one utterance had the same meaning as another. I suggested in post #6 that this was not always possible. In post #32 you wrote of normal logic, and I attempted to respond to that in post #33, which you quoted in your last post.

8. Key Member
Join Date
Jan 2009
Posts
1,507

## Re: I'm no taller than John?

Originally Posted by fivejedjon
I don't think we are really at cross-purposes.

It appeared to me that you, in post #5, were using what you now call inferential logic to prove that one utterance had the same meaning as another. I suggested in post #6 that this was not always possible. In post #32 you wrote of normal logic, and I attempted to respond to that in post #33, which you quoted in your last post.
Then we simply return to the question as to whether a significant proportion of native speakers suspend normal inferential logic in the case cited in the original question, concerning the adverbial use of 'no'. I can only repeat that I, for one, do not. Perhaps other native contributors would care to comment. Beyond that, I have, for the time being, nothing further to add.

Page 6 of 6 First ... 23456

#### Posting Permissions

• You may not post new threads
• You may not post replies
• You may not post attachments
• You may not edit your posts
•

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1