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.