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On 20 November 2012 15:52, Charles W Brickner <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

>
> I am reminded of a similar use of the negative by young people that we hear
> in the US now.  "I'm going to the store.  Not!"
>
>
Still feels awkward in English IMHO. The Japanese have it easy here :P .


> One of the books I recently "sold" to a list member (of course, I forget
> the
> title!) discussed the need we have to keep finding new ways to emphasize
> the
> negative: not at all, no way, not on your life.   This is the origin, he
> says, of the "pas" in French; merely adding "step" to emphasize the
> negative.
>
>
Exactly. Originally, it just meant "step" (as it still means when used as a
noun) and was restricted to verbs of movement: "je ne viens pas": "I come
not a step". Other types of verbs had other negative intensifiers. But
somehow they all disappeared (except "point": "dot", which was still
actively used in writing until the beginning of the 20th century, and is
still passively known by people, although actually using it would sound
ridiculously archaic) and "pas" was extended to use in all cases.
I do exactly the same thing in my Narbonese, which also has double
negations, with the following differences from French:
- "Ne" (which happens to be identical to the French, both in spelling and
pronunciation) is still used in speech (and can actually be emphasised as
"nõ": "not at all"), although it can sometimes be omitted;
- There are various negative intensifiers, depending on the semantics of
the verb. "Pas" in Narbonese is still restricted to verbs of movement,
while verbs of speech have "palavre" ("word"). The most generic negative
intensifier, though, is "reim", from Latin "res": thing.

As for why, it seems that polarity is a big deal to people (who would have
thought? ;) ), so as soon as it threatens to disappear, people innovate
ways to keep it intact. That's also why it's often asymmetric in various
languages, so as to keep it as salient as possible.
-- 
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/