tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 30 14:19:21 2009

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing



[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Re: Double negatives

Mark J. Reed (markjreed@gmail.com) [KLI Member]



They are only grammatically incorrect in one variety of English that
has no native speakers.  The English taught in school is not the One
True English, and its rules are rarely followed outside of formal
writing.
  Every language has a grammar, whose rules are inside the heads of
its speakers and impossible to violate unintentiomally.  Native
Anglophones don't learn their native language in school.  What is
taught in English class is effectively a second language to every
student.  This shows in the emphasis on the written form, which is
necessarily artificial.
  It's misleading to refer to any utterance emitted by a native
speaker in normal conversation as grammatically incorrect.  Say rather
that it is nonstandard.
  Based on what Okrand says in TKD and elsewhere, Klingons have this
same dichtomy between actual use and prescriptivist rules. (As have
most human cultures; much of what we know of the history of Latin and
the Romance languages comes from harangues against the horrible
grammar of the common people.)  So it's reasonable to draw parallels.
But please don't make arguments that only work if you pretend that
every native English speaker incorrectly speaks their first language
:)

On Monday, November 30, 2009, ghunchu'wI' 'utlh <qunchuy@alcaco.net> wrote:
> On Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 2:37 PM, Christopher Doty <suomichris@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> OTOH Chris is right in that double negatives are, in fact, a feature of *informal* or colloquial Standard English. ÂEvery native speaker will correctly understand utterances like:
>>>
>>> Â"Don't give me none of your lip, boy!"
>>>
>>> Â"Rules? ÂWe don't need no stinkin' rules!"
>>
>> Exactly! You would know that these sentences are negative.
>
> I would also expect to have them marked incorrect on an English test,
> since they are not grammatically proper English.
>
> (Note that I carefully didn't call them "ungrammatical". I called them
> "not grammatically proper". Please don't let that particular tangent
> lead you off the topic here. Do you have a copy of Klingon for the
> Galactic Traveler? You might find the section on intentional
> ungrammaticality to be helpful in understanding the vocabulary in
> common use on this forum.)
>
> Similarly, {not vIleghbe'} "I never didn't see him" might perhaps be
> something an uneducated or careless speaker of Klingon would say when
> he meant {not vIlegh} "I never saw him." But it would be considered an
> error nonetheless.
>
>> Fair enough, we can say that "negative concord" isn't required in
>> Klingon.
>
> Every example we have tells us it is "not required" in exactly the
> same way putting the object after the verb is "not required". In other
> words, doing it is wrong.
>
> The Klingon Dictionary was written for people who speak English.
> Generally, it doesn't explicitly point out things that Klingon doesn't
> do if English doesn't do them either.
>
>> This isn't the same, though, as saying that such a thing is
>> ungrammatical in Klingon as in English. ÂOne might still be able to
>> get two negatives, even if it isn't required.
>
> It's easy enough to have two negatives in a Klingon sentence:
> {matambe'qangbe'} "We are unwilling to not be silent", for example.
> However, you won't get two negatives both meaning the same thing.
>
> -- ghunchu'wI'
>
>
>
>

-- 
Mark J. Reed <markjreed@gmail.com>






Back to archive top level