I ain’t no half-educated pedant!

The half-educated love to show off the half they got.

For instance, in Blue Bloods, Erin Reagan periodically mocks her working-class detective, Anthony Abetemarco's use of "double negatives." When he says, "I ain't got no problem with that," she tells him, "Oh, you mean you do have a problem with that?"

This is utter silliness: sure, in mathematics or formal logic, something like − − 2 is equal to +2, but so what? Why should formal systems, especially since they are parasitic on natural language, get to dictate to natural language how it should be spoken?

Reagan obviously knew exactly what Anthony meant. That she would insist he meant the opposite is simply a way of asserting that her social is higher than his.

Comments

  1. Why is this grammatical sin more forgivable than "methodology"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because it is NOT A GRAMMATICAL SIN. There is nothing wrong with "I ain't no X" etc. at all. It is natural speech.

      By contrast, "methodology" is generated by a desire to appear fancy and imposing. It is not natural speech, but speech putting on airs.

      Delete
  2. So you ARE a half-educated pedant? (Had to.)

    More seriously, I think there’s nothing wrong with linguistic prescriptivism. There’s certain ways in which vernacular usage degrades language and makes it less aesthetically appealing. There’s nothing wrong with pushing back on certain trends and insist on a “proper” way of speaking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I think there’s nothing wrong with linguistic prescriptivism."

      As a general thing: you are right. It is just stupid in many particular cases. Like this one. Or like "Don't split an infinitive."

      Shakespeare, the most aesthetically pleasing user of English to have ever existed, used double negatives regularly.

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    2. Merchant of Venice: "Not in love neither?" Shakespeare did NOT mean the character was in love!

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    3. I think "the most aesthetically pleasing user of English to have ever existed" is an exaggeration, but even if it were true that wouldn't mean every jot and tiddle that he ever wrote was aesthetically pleasing. I think if Shakespeare had written "Not in love either," it would have been better. And I certainly think I'd Shakespeare had written that, no on God's green Earth would be saying "Man, by writing 'not in love either' Shakespeare has departed from the customary beauty of his writing."

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    4. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
      Try it with either.

      There are similar curiosities. (I often say English is full of traps for the unwary.) Today we would say “ I doubt that Keshav said” but in the past there was often a restriction or negation. “I doubt but that ...”

      Delete

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