tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 30 11:22:51 2009

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RE: Double negatives

Steven Boozer (sboozer@uchicago.edu)



ghunchu'wI':
>> Double negatives in Klingon appear to act the way they do in Standard
>> English, with one negating the other and yielding an affirmative
>> meaning.

Christopher Doty:
>This doesn't happen in Standard English, and it is stupid to say so.
>Language is not math, and two negatives do not make a positive, and
>saying so borders on various kinds of "-ists."

ghunchu'wI' should have said "in *formal* Standard English".  Surely I'm not the only one who remembers being taught never to use double negatives by prescriptivist English teachers.

OTOH Chris is right in that double negatives are, in fact, a feature of *informal* or colloquial Standard English.  Every native speaker will correctly understand utterances like:

  "Don't give me none of your lip, boy!"

  "Rules?  We don't need no stinkin' rules!"

even if he would never dare use them himself.

In linguistics does "standard" always mean the formal, educated, written variety of a language?


-- 
Voragh                          
Canon Master of the Klingons






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