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Thread: did or did not

  1. #11
    JJM Ballantyne is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: did or did not

    "I did not see anything. Excellent! Many people err here by putting 'nothing' which makes a double negative that turns the meaning around to the opposite."

    Oh come off it.

    It's true that the use of "nothing" here would not be "acceptable" in so-called "Standard English."

    But no one hearing someone say, "I didn't see nothin'" would ever actually understand the speaker to mean "I did see something."

  2. #12
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    Default Re: did or did not

    JJM, uhm . . . how does that relate to our topic "did or did not"?

  3. #13
    JJM Ballantyne is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: did or did not

    I'm merely pointing out that when we provide information to students we should not qualify it with patently false pet notions.

    The "double negative" is one of these.

    I accept that English learners need to start out with a pretty arbitrary "rules-bound" form of English. But at some point, they are going to encounter real honest-to-God native English speakers who say things like "I ain't doin' nothin'."

    They need to know that when someone says "I ain't doin' nothin'," it is not a sly logic game by the speaker who cleverly really means "I'm doing something."

    The so-called "double negative" is used here for negative emphasis.

    As it has for hundreds of years in our language despite the "tut-tutting" of "grammarians" who can't quite seem to accept that language doesn't work like mathematics.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: did or did not

    I agree with you, and the added explanation is mighty helpful.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: did or did not

    I won't disagree with you, JJM.
    As far as I'm aware of, though, logical approaches to language are rather flexible -- we can treat the problem of double negation fairly properly in a formal way, IMHO

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