Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 16:04:37 -0500

From: Alan Baragona baragonasa[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]VAX.VMI.EDU

Subject: Re: Double negatives (was one as a pronoun?)

At 10:44 PM 11/16/97 EST, Larry Horn wrote:

(P.S. Incidentally, the postings here on langauge vs. logic seem to assume

there's just one monolithic "logic", with which language may or may not agree.

But there are as many logics as there languages, and their properties differ

from each other in interesting ways. The issue isn't really language vs.

logic, but what the mapping rules are between grammar (morphosyntax) and


Exactly, which is why I said earlier that double negatives are not

necessarily illogical in any absolute sense at all. I also like your point

that "there are as many logics as there [are] languages". And you could add

"dialects." My favorite example of that is the principle of concord or

agreement. In English, agreement of number between subject/verb and

adjective/noun is fundamental to the "logic" of the language. But there's a

fine line between agreement and redundancy, and the dialectical usage "five

dollar" can be justified on the logical grounds that the extra plural marker

on the noun is redundant. And undoubtedly usages that are redundant in

English constitute natural agreement in other languages (wish I could think

of one off the top of my head--anyone?)

Alan Baragona


You know, years ago, my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this

world, Elwood, you must be . . ."--she always called me 'Elwood'--"In this

world, Elwood, you must be oh, so smart or oh, so pleasant." Well, for

years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me.

Elwood P. Dowd