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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Double Negatives
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0436  Thursday, 11 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Brian Haylett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Mar 1999 11:31:58 -0000
        Subj:   Re: Quill

[2]     From:   Francois Laroque <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Mar 1999 10:51:30 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0430 Re: Double Negatives

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Mar 1999 13:23:57 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0430 Re: Double Negatives


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 1999 11:31:58 -0000
Subject:        Re: Quill

>How interesting.  But what is the rule for double negatives in Germanic
>languages?
>
>How about Old English?

"In OE usage, multiple negation was perfectly normal" - Quirk & Wrenn,
Old English Grammar

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Francois Laroque <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 1999 10:51:30 -0600
Subject: 10.0430 Re: Double Negatives
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0430 Re: Double Negatives

I can  confirm John Penry's point. There are many examples of "Double
Negatives" used as intensifiers in French. Let's take, for instance, the
phrase "Ce n'est pas rien", which means "Isn't that something?". On the
other hand, he literal translation for it, "This is not nothing", would
simply be meaningless (or simply unidiomatic?)  in English...

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 1999 13:23:57 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0430 Re: Double Negatives
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0430 Re: Double Negatives

In one of those strange kind of sortes Virgilianae I came across this
from Sidney's Astrophil and Stella of the sixteenth century:

 LXIII

     O grammer-rules, O now your vertues show;
     So children still reade you with awfull eyes,
     As my young doue may, in your precepts wise,
     Her graunt to me by her owne vertue know:
     For late, with heart most hie, with eyes most lowe,
     I crau'd the thing which euer she denies;
     Shee, lightning loue, displaying Venus skies,
     Least once should not be heard, twise said, No, no.
     Sing then, my Muse, now Io Pfn sing;
     Heau'ns enuy not at my high triumphing,
     But grammers force with sweete successe confirme:
     For grammer says, (O this, deare Stella , say,)
     For grammer sayes, (to grammer who sayes nay?)
     That in one speech two negatiues affirme!

>>>The double negative was (like the split infinitive) a perfectly
>>>acceptable grammatical form, operating (as in Greek) as an intensifier.
>>>The Infant Grammarians, however, chose Latin rather than Greek as their
>>>model to 'describe' English, and so deemed it illicit.  For once they
>>>won, against common accepted usage.
>>
>
>>Forbidding
>>double negatives because they are logically positives (the second
>>negative supposedly negating, rather than enforcing, the first) was the
>>invention of eighteenth-century grammarians like Robert Lowth.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
 

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