Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 22:25:46 -0500
From: "David W. Pass" Beatfarm[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Double negatives (was one as a pronoun?)
In a message dated 97-11-15 21:37:01 EST, you write:
Of course, stating that "language is language" does not claim that
language is unchanging. I can['t imagine where you got that idea
from the messages that were posted.
The statement may not claim it; however, it implies it. The statement
"language is language" implies a continous equivilence. If the implication
is as it seems, the language yesterday equals language today which equals
language tomorrow; thus, the statement seems to imply that language is
To explain double negatives, you have to take into account
historical change, social attitudes (because for some reason
they went out of fashion), situation (when it is all right to
use double negatives and when not), that is, when and how
speakers and writers vary in their use of a given construction.
I think it was Sapir who wrote that "all grammars leak."
How ethnographic of you! You are quite correct. Unfortunately, if you are
insinuating that I have somehow implied that logic should be used to explain
the origin of double negatives in the English language, you are quite wrong
in doing so. Once again (and I hope for the penultimate time) I was only
trying to imply that grammar and formal logic are connected and therfore must
share some traits.
It is more appropriate to think of language as systematic.
Whether or not a statement is logical is a judgment that is made
after the statement is made rather than some kind of organizing
principle or basic aspect of language.
How could we be understood if we did not speak using a framework of logic.
Logic is the mold into which we pour our molten ideas -- ideas which cool to
form cast iron speech.