[Grammar] don't sign nothing

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don't sign nothing

is that a correct way of saying it????
 

riverkid

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don't sign nothing

is that a correct way of saying it????

Yes, it's correct, Unreg. It's just not standard English. In speech we often use double negatives and this sounds like a perfect example where the double negative adds some extra emphasis.
 

2006

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Yes, it's correct, Unreg. It's just not standard English. In speech we often use double negatives and this sounds like a perfect example where the double negative adds some extra emphasis.
I think that promoting bad English and trying to justify it by saying it adds emphasis is very questionable.
 

riverkid

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I think that promoting bad English and trying to justify it by saying it adds emphasis is very questionable.

Not questionable at all, 2006. I see and hear it done all the time.

But there is no need to use terms like "bad grammar," "fractured syntax," and "incorrect usage" when referring to rural and Black dialects. ... using terms like "bad grammar" for "nonstandard" is both insulting and scientifically inaccurate.

Grammar Puss - Steven Pinker


The aspects of some prescriptivist works ... illustrate ways in which those works let their users down. Where being ungrammatical is confused with merely being informal, there is a danger that the student of English will not be taught how to speak in a normal informal way, but will sound stilted and unnatural, like an inexpert reader reading something out of a book.

[The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language at page 10]
 
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2006

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re: Is this right?

Not questionable at all, 2006. I see and hear it done all the time.

But there is no need to use terms like "bad grammar," "fractured syntax," and "incorrect usage" when referring to rural and Black dialects. ... using terms like "bad grammar" for "nonstandard" is both insulting and scientifically inaccurate.

Grammar Puss - Steven Pinker[/quote[
But the question is, how many dialects are you going to teach to ESL students at one time? It seems much more sensible and realistic to teach standard English and allow students to pick up other dialects if and when they are exposed to them. Many ESL students will never be exposed to "rural and Black dialects".
 
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riverkid

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re: Is this right?

Not questionable at all, 2006. I see and hear it done all the time.

But the question is, how many dialects are you going to teach to ESL students at one time? It seems much more sensible and realistic to teach standard English and allow students to pick up other dialects if and when they are exposed to them. Many ESL students will never be exposed to "rural and Black dialects".

Indeed it does seem an eminently sensible thing to stick to standard English, 2006. But when ESLs do ask there is no reason to mislead them. Double negatives are not simply found in rural and Black dialects. They are common in the speech of speakers of standard English too.

Quite obviously, from the questions we get here all the time, ESLs are being exposed to a lot of different dialects of English.
 

Soup

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But the question is, how many dialects are you going to teach to ESL students at one time? It seems much more sensible and realistic to teach standard English and allow students to pick up other dialects if and when they are exposed to them. Many ESL students will never be exposed to "rural and Black dialects".
Knowledge, however, is power. In teaching a word or phrase, providing its variants then and there empowers learners. (Just ask them.) Students of English will and do come across variants all the time, thanks to American movies, TV, and, of course, the Internet, especially online chat. That don't sign nothing is correct (or not) is a completely different topic, given that "correct" is a subjective term, not to mention has its history in prescriptivism, and as teachers we should be aware of that from the get-go.

  • Do people say it? Yes.
  • Is it considered Standard English? No.
That's all that students need to know.
 

riverkid

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  • Do people say it? Yes.
  • Is it considered Standard English? No.
That's all that students need to know.


Given the long and sordid past that is prescriptivism, Soup, I think that ESLs also have to know that nonstandard does not mean incorrect, it does not mean bad English, it does not mean bad grammar.


AHD

Introduction. The American Heritage Book of English Usage. 1996

Standard English Standard English is the language we use for public discourse. It is the working language of our social institutions. The news media, the government, the legal profession, and the teachers in our schools and universities all aim at Standard English as a norm of communication, primarily in expository and argumentative writing, but also in public speaking. Standard English is thus different from what we normally think of as speech in that Standard English must be taught, whereas children learn to speak naturally without being taught. Of course, Standard English shares with spoken English certain features common to all forms of language. It has rules for making grammatical sentences, and it changes over time. The issues of pronunciation discussed in this book mainly involve how to pronounce specific written words or written letters, such as ch or g, in different words. The guidance to pronunciation is not meant to standardize or correct anyone’s naturally acquired form of spoken English.


The name Standard English is perhaps not the best, since it implies a standard against which various kinds of spoken English are to be measured, and this is hardly a fair comparison.
A better name might be Institutional English, Conventional English, Commercial English, or Standardized English for Writing and Public Speaking, but these names all have their own negative connotations and shortcomings. So, since Standard is what this brand of English has been called for generations, we use the name here.

Nonstandard English There are many expressions and grammatical constructions that are not normally used in Standard English. These include regional expressions, such as might could, and other usages, such as ain’t and it don’t, that are typically associated with dialects used by people belonging to less prestigious social groups. These nonstandard varieties of English are no less logical or systematic than Standard English. In this book an expression labeled nonstandard is not wrong; it is merely inappropriate for ordinary usage in Standard English.

Formal English On some occasions it is important to adhere to the conventions that characterize serious public discourse and to avoid expressions that we might use in more casual situations. Formal writing and speaking are characterized by the tendency to give full treatment to all the elements that are required for grammatical sentences. Thus in formal English you might hear May I suggest that we reexamine the problem? where both clauses have a subject and verb and the subordinate clause is introduced by the conjunction that. Of course, formal English has many other features. Among these are the careful explanation of background information, complexity in sentence structure, explicit transitions between thoughts, and the use of certain words such as may that are reserved chiefly for creating a formal tone. Situations that normally require formal usage would include an article discussing a serious matter submitted to a respected journal, an official report by a group of researchers to a government body, a talk presented to a professional organization, and a letter of job application.


Informal English This is a broad category applied to situations in which it is not necessary, and in many cases not even desirable, to use the conventions of formal discourse. Informal language incorporates many of the familiar features of spoken English, especially the tendency to use contractions and to abbreviate sentences by omitting certain elements.

Where formal English has May I suggest that we reexamine the manuscript? in informal English you might get Want to look this over again? Informal English tends to assume that the audience shares basic assumptions and background knowledge with the writer or speaker, who therefore alludes to or even omits reference to this information, rather than carefully explaining it as formal discourse requires. Typical informal situations would include a casual conversation with classmates, a letter to a close friend, or an article on a light topic written for a newspaper or magazine whose readership shares certain interests of the writer.
 

Anglika

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It is very right and proper to indicate to a learner that there is a correct and an incorrect form. Whether the incorrect form is also a colloquially used one may be interesting, but does not help the learner who is trying to pass a test or complete an assignment.

More advanced learners may well find suitable opportunities to use colloquial forms in acceptable ways.

Soapboxes are slippery things to stand on.
 

henz988

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I have been learning English for years and we are rarely exposed to nonstandard English. I think if we learn English just for business activities, we’d better not learn those rural and regional expresions, though we sometimes want to learn some to get a closer relationship with our partners.
That said, I am afraid if we always speak like textbooks (in fact it is impossible,for we‘ll surely make mistakes), will it be considered that we are not easy to get accessible to?
 

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Under Nonstandard English in riverkid's last post, there is the patently false statement that "These nonstandard varieties of English are no less logical (my underlining) or systematic than Standard English.

Logically "don't say nothing" means 'say something', just as "I don't have no money" logically means 'I have some money.'

"I have no money." means I am without money. So how does "I don't have no money." logically mean the same thing?

I don't understand the motive of those who constantly rail against the concept of correct and incorrect English on an ESL site.
 

2006

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I have been learning English for years and we are rarely exposed to nonstandard English. I think if we learn English just for business activities, we’d better not learn those rural and regional expresions, though we sometimes want to learn some to get a closer relationship with our partners.
That said, I am afraid if we always speak like textbooks (in fact it is impossible,for we‘ll surely make mistakes), will it be considered that we are not easy to get accessible to?
I think that the problem of 'speaking like textbooks' is not due to a shortage of incorrect English. Rather it is due to the absence of the slang, idioms and shortcuts that are typical of the language spoken by native speakers.
 

Soup

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Given the long and sordid past that is prescriptivism, Soup, I think that ESLs also have to know that nonstandard does not mean incorrect, it does not mean bad English, it does not mean bad grammar.
Agreed. Again, it's a completely different topic. :-D
 

Soup

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Logically "don't say nothing" means 'say something',
It's more a matter of dialect.
Although they are not used in Standard English, double negatives are used in various American English dialects, including African American Vernacular English, and in the East London Cockney and East Anglian dialects.
unmarked
Don't say nothing.
=> Don't say anything.

marked
Don't say nothing. (That is,) say something.
if there is very heavy stress on "don't" or a specific plaintive stress on "nothing," then it would be a grammatically correct way of emphasizing that the speaker would rather have "something" than "nothing" at all.

In some languages (or varieties of a language,) negative forms are consistently used throughout the sentence to express a single negation. In other languages, a double negative is used to negate a negation, and therefore, it resolves to a positive. In the former case, triple and quadruple negation can also be seen, which leads to the terms multiple negation or negative concord.

Source

Negative concord, popularly called "double negation", as in I didn't go nowhere; if the sentence is negative, all negatable forms are negated. This contrasts with Standard English, where a double negative is considered a positive (although this wasn't always so; see double negative). There is also "triple" or "multiple negation", as in the phrase I don't know nothing about no one no more, which would be "I don't know anything about anybody anymore" in Standard English.

Source
 

2006

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It's more a matter of dialect.
Although they are not used in Standard English, double negatives are used in various American English dialects, including African American Vernacular English, and in the East London Cockney and East Anglian dialects.
unmarked
Don't say nothing.
=> Don't say anything.

marked
Don't say nothing. (That is,) say something.
if there is very heavy stress on "don't" or a specific plaintive stress on "nothing," then it would be a grammatically correct way of emphasizing that the speaker would rather have "something" than "nothing" at all.

In some languages (or varieties of a language,) negative forms are consistently used throughout the sentence to express a single negation. In other languages, a double negative is used to negate a negation, and therefore, it resolves to a positive. In the former case, triple and quadruple negation can also be seen, which leads to the terms multiple negation or negative concord.

Source

Negative concord, popularly called "double negation", as in I didn't go nowhere; if the sentence is negative, all negatable forms are negated. This contrasts with Standard English, where a double negative is considered a positive (although this wasn't always so; see double negative). There is also "triple" or "multiple negation", as in the phrase I don't know nothing about no one no more, which would be "I don't know anything about anybody anymore" in Standard English.

Source
So what is the practical point of the above? Are English learners supposed to note everything you said here and try to remember it?
 

tedtmc

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re: Is this right?

don't sign nothing
You ain't got nothing to lose.


Those are typical American slang, aren't they? :)
 

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re: Is this right?

don't sign nothing
You ain't got nothing to lose.

Those are typical American slang, aren't they? :)
I wouldn't call that slang. That's incorrect/non standard English.

Slang is mostly an informal nonstandard vocabulary. (using unusual words and phrases in place of the regular words)

a buck = a dollar
bread = money
hooch = hard liquor (like whiskey)
my old lady = my wife
he bought the farm = he died
 

Soup

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So what is the practical point of the above? Are English learners supposed to note everything you said here and try to remember it?
I'm not entirely sure what you are saying here.
 

2006

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I'm not entirely sure what you are saying here.
I mean are the students reading our posts really supposed to remember that it would be quite okay to say "don't say nothing" when speaking to people in/from East London and East Anglia, even though it would be best to say "don't say anything" in most other places?

And are they really going to understand/remember that "if there is very heavy stress on "don't" or a specific plaintive stress on "nothing," then it would be a grammatically correct way..."? Or will you just confuse/overwhelm them, especially middle and lower-level learners?
 
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