Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 09:13:33 -0500 From: "Dennis R. Preston" Subject: Re: Not a comment not about multiple negation in English Beverly, I agree that double (or multiple) negation seldom follows simple math rules in English, but I wonder about the emphatic function you assign it. It seems to me that in most varieties of English which regularly employ it, multiple negation does not emphasize the negation at all. It is simply an obligatory attachment of a negator to the AUX and to every indefinite of the clause (and in some varieties, other clauses). For example, Didn't nobody never mess with us kids from New Albany. is not an 'emphatic' form of Nobody ever messed with us kids from New Albany. It is simply the 'normal' assignment of negation (with some accomnying adjustments, AUX-fronting, for example) in that variety. If you wanted emphatic qualities for that string, stress would do the trick, e.g., Didn't NObody never... or Didn't nobody NEver.. DInIS (a native speaker of that variety) Preston > And of course Modern English double (and triple, and quadruple,...) > negation also emphasizes the negative; it does not make the sentence > meaning positive, despite the prescriptions of our Miss Fidditch grade > school teachers. Language ain't mathematics! Dennis R. Preston Department of Linguistics and Languages Michigan State University East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Office: (517)353-0740 Fax: (517)432-2736