Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 14:54:35 EDT From: Larry Horn 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 >her. 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"? Larry