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  1. #11
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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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
    Neither do I. (So do I?) I don't agree with 5jj's fomulas.

    I think the second sentence may suggest that the speaker's height is nearly that of John, but the basic meaning seems to be the same. "No" negates "taller" as does "not" in

    "I'm taller than you."
    "Not taller, but shorter."

    Knowing only that someone's being taller is negated, we can't infer whether he is shorter or not.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    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.
    I think what you said is almost revolutionary to my life-time curiosity of "no more than" vs "not more than" or "no less than" vs "not less than".

    I think "no" has the implication of no existence of something such as "There is no person in the room", that's "why I am no taller than John" means "I have no fact or there's no fact that I am taller than John, so I stay at John's level" while "not" means the opposite of something.

    Now I can understand why "He is no more than a beggar" means "He is only a beggar" as it means "He stays a beggar without having a higher state than that". "No" can be interpreted as "there isn't" instead of negation. I hope I understood it right, and I think so.

    Thanks for your great teaching!

  3. #13
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    "I am no taller than John" means "I have no fact or there's no fact that I am taller than John, so I stay at John's level" while "not" means the opposite of something.
    This reasoning is flawed. If we only know that "there's no fact that we are taller than John", we cannot say whether or not "we are at John's level".

  4. #14
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    This reasoning is flawed. If we only know that "there's no fact that we are taller than John", we cannot say whether or not "we are at John's level".
    Maybe fivejedjon can give us an opinion about yours, and I happend to have another question between "no good" and "not good".
    If "no good" should be gradable, it means "it is still good, but poor quality or low level", but it doesn't mean something like that.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Maybe fivejedjon can give us an opinion about yours, and I happend to have another question between "no good" and "not good".
    If "no good" should be gradable, it means "it is still good, but poor quality or low level", but it doesn't mean something like that.
    I'll be back with a response to the main question before long. May I suggest that we leave consideration of 'no/not good' to another thread? It's an interesting point, but it may sidetrack this thread.

  6. #16
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Consider the following situation. I am 168 cm tall and John is 198 cm tall. I am asked, "Are you no taller than John?" If I want to tell the truth, what do I have to say, yes or no? (Regardless of the likeliness of the question.)

  7. #17
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    I think several points are being slightly overlooked:

    1. I am not saying that a comparative form with no always and only means a simple negation of the comparative in the sense of no ...er than = as ...as. I am simply saying that it can imply this.

    2. I am not saying that a comparative form in a negative utterance with not always and only implies an opposite comparative form, merely that it can.

    3. English is a language. Languages do not always follow the rules of formal logic,

    4. There are clearly situations in which there is a difference between no-negation and not-negation. I gave an example of this in post #6.

    Having established a difference between no and not- negation with a noun, we can consider whether it is possible with a comparative structure.

    1. Prague isn’t more beautiful than Paris.
    2. Prague is no more beautiful than Paris.

    In 1#, the (contracted) not negates the verb, and therefore the whole assertion. In #2, it is not clear whether no is to be read as referring to more alone, or to more beautiful. Both readings appear to be possible. In the case of the former, definitely, and the latter, perhaps, then it seems to me that there is an implication that Prague is as beautiful as Paris. It appears to be impossible to ‘prove’ this. All I can say is that in my own usage, and in that of others that I have encountered, this appears to be possible. I feel that #4 below is less likely to be heard than #3.

    3. Prague isn’t more beautiful than Paris; in fact it’s rather an ugly city outside the Old Town.
    4. ?Prague is no more beautiful than Paris; in fact it’s rather an ugly city outside the Old Town.

    The situation with comparatives formed with –er is not so striking, but I feel that #6 is less likely to be heard than #5

    5. I’m not taller than John; in fact, I am quite a bit shorter.
    6. ?I’m no taller than John; in fact, I am quite a bit shorter.
    Last edited by 5jj; 31-Mar-2011 at 19:37. Reason: blunder corrected

  8. #18
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    The situation with comparatives formed with Ėer is not so striking, but I feel that #6 is less likely to be heard than #5

    5. Iím not taller than John; in fact, I am quite a bit shorter.
    6. ?Iím not taller than John; in fact, I am quite a bit shorter.
    Your numbers 5 and 6 are identical. Did you mean

    6. ?Iím no taller than John; in fact, I am quite a bit shorter.

    ?

    (Please have a look at my question above your post.)

  9. #19
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Your numbers 5 and 6 are identical. Did you mean

    6. ?I’m no taller than John; in fact, I am quite a bit shorter.

    (Please have a look at my question above your post.)
    Thanks, BC. I'm off to correct it, then I'll look at your question.

  10. #20
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm no taller than John?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I am 168 cm tall and John is 198 cm tall. I am asked, "Are you no taller than John?" If I want to tell the truth, what do I have to say, yes or no? (Regardless of the likeliness of the question.)
    It's hard to disregard the likeliness of the question. I can honestly conceive of this question being asked only if the asker has believed that 'I' am taller than John, and I have just told him that I am the same height. He then asks, "Are you (really) no taller than John?" (I could also accept 'not' in that question.

    As to the answer, I think it would be 'yes (I really am no taller than John)'.

    I feel that this is not a satisfactory response to your question, but it's the best I can do at the moment.

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