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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
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    Default I'm no taller than John?

    I can understand 1, but in 2 in my grammar book, it compares to a math equation saying no means 0, so it makes the meaning of equality, is it true?
    Even if it is, it's hard to understand. What's the difference between not and no in this case?

    1.I am not taller than John = Not {I am taller than John}
    not(A>B) -> A<=B
    2.I am no taller than John = I am {no taller} than John
    no =zero : no(A>B) -> A=B
    Last edited by keannu; 04-Apr-2011 at 23:51.

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    No + comparative + than is acceptable.


    1. I am not taller than John = Not {I am taller than John}. I could be shorter than John.

    2. I am no taller than John = I am {not taller} than John. I am the same height as John.

  3. #3
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I can understand 1, but in 2 in my grammar book, it compares to a math equation saying no means 0, so it make the meaning of equality, is it true?
    Even if it is, it's hard to understand. What's the difference between not and no in this case?

    1.I am not taller than John = Not {I am taller than John}
    not(A>B) -> A<=B
    2.I am no taller than John = I am {no taller} than John
    no =zero : no(A>B) -> A=B
    Interesting use of equations.

    The second sentence implies smaller difference between the heights:

    "I am not taller than John" -- I could be much shorter.
    "I am no taller than John" -- I am of similar height (not necessarily identical as your equation suggests).



    Also, the second sentence is more emphatic. The focus in such construction is more on the second item in the comparison: "I am no taller than John" implies that John is short. The first sentence does not contain such implication (John could very well be very tall, I'm just not taller).

    Compare:

    "it is no bigger than a grain of rice" -- a grain of rice is very small
    "he is no more intelligent than Heather" -- Heather is not intelligent

  4. #4
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    No + comparative + than is acceptable.


    1. I am not taller than John = Not {I am taller than John}. I could be shorter than John.

    2. I am no taller than John = I am {not taller} than John. I am the same height as John.

    Interesting. I read 2. as implying similar but not necessarily identical height. I'll ponder this.

  5. #5
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    I'm afraid that I see no semantic difference between these two sentences, the only real difference existing in terms of their syntax, with one negative adverbial (no) substituted for another (not).

    'No', however, unlike 'not', is a simple submodifier, i.e. an adverb confined to the modification of adjectives/other adverbs (in this particular case, specifically to that of the comparative forms of adjectives) and thus here serves to realize AdjP no taller, while 'not' is most naturally construed here as a verb-phrase modifier (i.e. a 'true' adverbial by the lights of Quirkian terminology), thus serving here to realize VP am not (taller than John).

    However, since the direct negation of the assertion that I am taller than John (#1) is the same as the positive assertion of my failing to be taller he is (#2), the two sentences have effective semantic equivalence. Or, to put it more simply, #1 affirms that I am NOT a person who is taller than John and #2 that I am a person who is NOT taller than John (both of these logically allowing that I am a person who is the same height as John or that I am a person who is shorter than John).

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    I'm afraid that I see no semantic difference between these two sentences, ...logically allowing...
    As we all know, philo, language is not necessarily logical. Quirk et al (1985) write:

    "Negation with no may have different implications than verb negation with not. While He is not a teacher denotes that his occupation is not teaching, He is no teacher indicates that he lacks the skills needed for teaching.The determiner no converts the usually nongradable noun into a gradable noun that characterises the person ..."

    I feel that negation of a comparative form with no implies (and only implies) a simple negation of the comparative in the sense of no ...er than = as ...as. Negation with not, however, allows more possibility of an oppposite comparative, in the sense of I am not taller than = I am only as tall as/shorter than.
    Last edited by 5jj; 31-Mar-2011 at 08:37. Reason: omission of a verb. Doh!

  7. #7
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I feel that negation of a comparative form with no implies (and only implies) a simple negation of the comparative in the sense of no ...er than = as ...as. Negation with not, however, allows more possibility of an oppposite comparative, in the sense of I am not taller than = I am only as tall as/shorter than.
    Interesting. Do you consider something like "it is no bigger and no smaller than... " rhetorical?

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by freezeframe View Post
    Interesting. Do you consider something like "it is no bigger and no smaller than... " rhetorical?
    No. I think that it is emphasising the equality of size. Note that I said that I felt this construction implies equality, not specifically asserts it.

  9. #9
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    No. I think that it is emphasising the equality of size. Note that I said that I felt this construction implies equality, not specifically asserts it.
    Interesting too. I'm now thinking about this too much. With me that sometimes leads to unnecessary nuancing and navel gazing.

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by freezeframe View Post
    Interesting too. I'm now thinking about this too much. With me that sometimes leads to unnecessary nuancing and navel gazing.
    And then the next day, you feel a bit differently about it and it's back to the navel.

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