Date: Tue, 19 Sep 1995 10:34:59 EDT


Subject: Re: Usage: "any more" (fwd)

Janet Harader jharader[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CLASS.ORG writes

"The Random House Dictionary of the English Usage" states that anymore is

commonly spelled as one word. They give two definitions. The second,

which is "nowadays; presently" gives the date of 1350-1400; Middle

English "ani more any longer". The dictionary does not give a source of

a book or quote where the word originated, only a date.

Sorry for being skeptical again, but I'm not convinced that this is our

quarry. The standard dialect _anymore_ can also be glossed (more or less) as

'nowadays' or 'presently', if the latter is taken (as I imagine was intended)

as 'now' (could 'anymore' ever have meant 'presently' in the sense of 'soon'?).

The problem is that dictionaries don't in general have syntactic diacritics,

such as [NPI] for negative polarity items. In most dictionaries, you can't

look up 'much' and 'many' and find a diacritic or comment to indicate that the

former but not the latter is restricted (in its general, non-pre-comparative

use) to negative and related contexts--

He eats many vegetables.

He doesn't eat many vegetables.

?He drinks much milk.

He doesn't drink much milk.)

Or _budge_ may be glossed as 'move, shift', but this doesn't tell us that we

say 'She moved' or 'He shifted', but not 'They budged', only 'They didn't


So the fact that _The Random House Dictionary of the English Usage_ [can that

be right?] gives 1350-1400 as a date at which the 'nowadays, presently' sense

of _anymore_ is attested can't necessarily be taken at face value without

knowing whether the contexts of occurrence were really those forcing the

positive use.