Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 10:38:53 EST
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: one as a pronoun?
Donald Lance writes,
The people who say "I ain't got none" and mean that 'none' is exactly what
they have are merely augmenting the negation, not negating the negation.
Does any native speaker of English ever assume that someone else's "I ain't
got none" or "I can't hardly do that any more" or "He won't never come
back" is actually a negation of a negative?
Depends on the context, including prior discourse and intonation/stress. Even
within a negative concord dialect, "I don't want nothing" can correspond either
to standard Eng. 'There's nothing I want' [= I don't want anything] or 'It's
not the case that I want nothing' [= I don't want nothing], but the latter
interpretation only arises if the prior discourse suggests that the speaker
DOES want nothing and with the appropriate marked contour.