[DWJ] negativity (was A revelation of Time City)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Jul 17 10:14:21 EDT 2006

>On Mon, 17 Jul 2006, Rowland, Jennifer A B wrote:
>|Deborah wrote:
>|> It seems to me that the guideline we've vaguely been using
>|> over the last years -- which has never been formally stated,
>|> I don't think -- is that for certain books, such as Howl's
>|> (On an entirely unrelated note, that construction I used in
>|> the first sentence: "I don't think". Does anyone else use it?
>|> I'm trying to figure out if that's a regional dialect saying
>|> or me just talking like a freak.)
>|Used this way round, you mean, contrasting with "I don't think it has
>|ever been formally stated"? I don't think (ha) I use it like this
>|myself, but I've certainly seen it before. Jennifer

Deborah explained

>But specifically, with the double negative involved.  Because if
>I wrote it the right way round I would actually have said "I
>don't think it has never been formally stated".

"That's not right, I don't think" is something I'd certainly say/write and
expect it to be understood as "I think that's not right".  Tacking "I don't
think" onto the end is actually a sort of filler, apologetic
this-is-only-my-opinion lipservice to avoid being accused of attacking
someone on a list, perhaps.  Not this list, but there are places where
stating a fact from a text, even quoting it, to refute someone's wild
theorising can get one accused of attacking the person, and "That's not
quite what [the author] said, I don't think" helps to forestall such
accusation and for some reason causes less offence than "I don't think
that's quite what [the author] said."  I have never understood why that
should be but it seems to happen.

>I'm just wondering if this is in any way related to the local
>construction I haven't used since I was a kid, "so don't I" to
>mean "so do I.".

Never met that one.

>Forgive me, I've been spending too much time with linguists.

Is such a thing possible?  Or would that depend on the linguists?  I
suppose one might get bored when the theorising about the origins of the
Basque language has gone on for more than two hours...  :-)

>ObDWJ:  say what you mean, or you'll get all the shoes. :)

She herself has been known to say, "We bettn't had!" instead of "We'd
better not" or "We hadn't better".  :-)


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