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Staving Christophe Grandsire:
>En réponse à Nik Taylor :
>
>
>>How'd *that* happen?  :-)
>
>The explanation I've seen is that the affirmative "ne" after a verb of
>fear is *not* cognate to the negative "ne", but descends from the Latin
>conjunction "ne" which, used to introduce subclauses after a verb of fear,
>has an "affirmative" meaning (while it has a negative meaning, negating
>"ut", when introducing a subclause after a verb of will). Of course, the
>Latin "ne" and "non" are related (and the French negative "ne" descends
>from "non" in unstressed use), so those two "ne" are ultimately related,
>but not directly.
>
>Latin examples:
>Suadeo tibi ut legas: I advise you to read
>Suadeo tibi ne legas: I advise you not to read
>Timeo ne veniat: I'm afraid he will come
>Timeo ne non veniat: I'm afraid he will not come
>
>Note that the use in Latin is just as strange: what with some verbs
>creates a *negative* subclause creates with verbs of fear an *affirmative*
>subclause. I read once something stating that it was actually a rather
>common phenomenon: that the semantics of verbs of fear made it uneasy for
>people to use truly affirmative subclauses after them. Fear being
>negative, the subclause must be in a negative form. I must say I love that
>idea, and be sure that Maggel will have something similar ;))) .
>

The nearest equivalent of the Latin "ne" in English is "lest" - slightly
archaic, but a little bit of archaism never hurt anyone. Your last two
examples are then "I fear lest he comes", and "I fear lest he comes not."

Pete