Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 22:25:46 -0500 From: "David W. Pass" 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 unchanging. << 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.