Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 21:12:05 -0500 From: "Jeutonne P. Brewer" Subject: Re: Double negatives (was one as a pronoun?) David Pass, 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. We certainly have problems in formal linguistics in describing semantics. Semiotics has problems also. But a formal syllogism has even more difficulty in explaining how people express meaning (as influenced by world view, age, gender, etc.). The double negatives with which this discussion started illustrate the point. 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." 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. Jeutonne Brewer