Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 14:06:00 -0500 From: Larry Horn Subject: Re: ...NOT! In connection with Barry's early ...NOT!-- > > This is from the Cincinnati Times-Star, 26 July 1888, pg. 2, col. 2: > > Of course "White Wings" was mourned because he was hissed. Yes he >did--NOT!!! > --this example, antedating our earlier ...NOT/NITs (see esp. Sheidlower & Lighter's excellent post-mortem in the Summer 1993 Am. Speech), is consistent with my guess that the earlier examples of the retroactive cancellation construction are spin-offs of this sort of syntactic blend, where the ironic dissenter is simultaneously appearing to concede the point ("Yes, it is") while actually refuting it ("No, it is NOT!"). The "not" may be whispered (as an ironic sotto voce to the audience, as Cary Grant does it in "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House") or defiantly shouted to the heavens (as evidently in the case above). The emergence of those retro-NOTs that follow (and cancel) full sentences, rather than sentence-final auxiliaries ("Yes, I have...NOT!"), is a partly distinct phenomenon that seems to peak in cicada-like cycles, most memorably the one that capped in time for the 1992 WOTY vote. I'm not entirely sure what the ellipsis in the above example (Yes, he did(n't)--what? be mourned?), but that's a query for the editor of the no doubt defunct Cincinnati Times-Star, not for Barry. Larry