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  #21  
Old 15 July 2011, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Alarm View Post
Sometimes the use of double negatives bothers me.

Like that song, I don't know who sings it.


"I ain't never gonna be.... a slave to love"

So are you saying you WILL be?
or you won't?
That he or she won't be a slave to love.

Does this really confuse people? I've always thought the meaning was perfectly clear and it was only misplaced pedantry that led to people questioning it. Like Barbara said, it's emphasis not maths.
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  #22  
Old 15 July 2011, 02:13 PM
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Yeah like "We don't need no education". IMO, that's a perfect use of a double negative, because they are railing rebelling the school which we can assume is strict about rules of formal grammar
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  #23  
Old 15 July 2011, 02:19 PM
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It tends to confuse me. I process one of the negatives first, then the second one seems to contradict it. But I find it a confusing construction even when used 'correctly'; I have to go through the sentence and reverse the negatives. It's honestly not pedantry. I don't care about double negatives being 'right' or not, and I've had trouble with them since before I was formally taught what was proper grammar. Plus, the colloquial 'emphasis' type of double negative I find easier to understand.
I have trouble with long conditional sentences too, constructions like 'x, if not y'. I think it's the structure of English sentences more than anything, because it doesn't seem to happen with other languages.
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  #24  
Old 15 July 2011, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
That he or she won't be a slave to love.

Does this really confuse people? I've always thought the meaning was perfectly clear and it was only misplaced pedantry that led to people questioning it. Like Barbara said, it's emphasis not maths.
It's understandable, from the context, of course.
But if you're looking at a single sentence of written text, it might not be as clearly obvious.

And since my job involves writing stuff to make it blindingly obvious to even another lowly primate, it grates when I see it, because I've seen how people can take stuff and twist it, when you thought it was perfectly clear.
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  #25  
Old 15 July 2011, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Alarm View Post
And since my job involves writing stuff to make it blindingly obvious to even another lowly primate, it grates when I see it, because I've seen how people can take stuff and twist it, when you thought it was perfectly clear.
Yeah, I think most people would agree that business English should stick to formal rules of grammar.

Richard, OTH, was talking about colloquial usage, not business usage.
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  #26  
Old 15 July 2011, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
Yeah, I think most people would agree that business English should stick to formal rules of grammar.

Richard, OTH, was talking about colloquial usage, not business usage.
I wrote a big post about colloquial english and regional/national variances and lsot it after spilling water on my keyboard
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  #27  
Old 15 July 2011, 04:45 PM
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Ain't no thang, brother!
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  #28  
Old 15 July 2011, 04:59 PM
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Ain't no thang, brother!
Tha' english, I cannae unnerstan'!
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  #29  
Old 16 July 2011, 10:30 PM
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D'oh!

This just makes me wonder about what really defines, on some grand scale, when a double negative should be interpreted as an intended double negative versus an emphatic negative. I have an example in mind for testing, but, I guess the example really isn't a double negative:
I won't say I was there, but I won't say I wasn't there either.
or, similarly
I can neither confirm nor deny those statements.
Those are statements about denying the ability to say something or its (logical) opposite, which I doubt would fit strictly fit the "double negative" category.

However, I have heard things which, logically speaking, are double negatives and are meant to be interpreted as a double negatives as another way to emphasize that something is always true. In particular, this is true of some religious songs (go figure). They always seem to occur in "Never ... not ..." combinations, though.

If I were to say something that might be universally applicable, it would be that "no" means a logical negative, except possibly with other negators (not, never, neither/nor, etc..). We'd have to note "Ain't nobody's business" doesn't follow that rule... precisely... (grrr)... I guess we could account for that since "nobody" could be interpreted as "no body", etc, but... I fear I'm getting far into the realms of how a simple computer program would stupidly interpret a sentence instead of how a human would.

If I were to discuss this issue with a young child, I guess, I'd say, look at the context, which would especially include considering the speaker. People may be more likely to speak with "double negatives" in certain circumstances. As far as when to choose to use them or not... heheh.. I'd mention "context!", and probably leave it at that, which strikes me as about the equivalent of throwing somebody into the lake to teach them how to swim, but as people have learned how to swim that way, I guess it's not all bad.

Um... as I'm seeing I don't really have a point and this message is just random assortment of musings , I do hope somebody found it it entertaining or useful.
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