Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 14:54:35 EDT


Subject: Positive Anymore

Natalie Maynor writes,

I tried to explain positive anymore in my Descriptive English Grammar

class this morning, and some of the students were totally mystified.

At least one student never could figure out what the example sentences

were trying to say. The positive anymore rendered them meaningless to


This is, I think, an interesting phenomenon, especially since others have

reported similar reactions in their own classes, and the particularly

vitriolic ire of prescriptivists confronted with this well-attested variant

form reinforces my sense that there's more going on than just unfamiliarity

with the occurrence of a given form with a given meaning. Obviously the

concept of positive anymore is not intrinsically difficult; it's pretty close

(while not identical) to that of 'nowadays' or even 'now', which don't seem

all that hard for speakers to master. Maybe it's the overlap between the

negative polarity sense and the unrestricted one, but I suspect that's not the

whole story. Nor is the occurrence of 'any' without any negation or other

operator to license it, since 'anyhow', 'anyway', and even "free-choice" 'any'

(Anyone can whistle; Anyone knows that) are all found in standard (majority

dialect) English. Does Labov or anyone else working with the sociolinguistics

of language attitude have an explanation for the bewildered or disgusted re-

actions speakers evince when confronted with "Anymore, I do"?