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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 07:21 AM

I'm unsure if this will get results here or in the General forum, however, since I welcome debates, I'll start by having it here. Mods, if it gets few results, then bounce it to the General area.

Now for the topic: why do people in daily life, movies and certain songs use double negatives in their speaking? For example, "I don't know nothing" or "I don't have nothing". Every time I hear these or other double-negatives, I ask myself whether the person actually understands what they're saying or are they too uneducated and dimwitted? When I point out to someone that it's a double-negative, I either get laughed at, the person has a deer-in-the-headlights expression, or I get told I take it too seriously. For the latter point, I understand informal conversations aren't meant to be up to par of English scholars, however, unambiguity would be nice.

So, the questions:

1) Why do people often use double-negatives in their speaking?
2) Are double-negatives being transformed into single-positives in spoken language and/or written language? I say, "no" to this but I'm curious what others think.
3) Do you think language education (or lack thereof) is the cause?


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 07:50 AM

Because people make mistakes <3


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 08:20 AM

Absolutely, I feel a strong level of apathy towards those who continuously fail to follow basic grammar rules in their native tongue.


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 10:37 AM

I have no idea why people do this, I guess lack of education could be a cause. I hate when people do it, it annoys me terribly and I always feel the need to correct them.


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 12:47 PM

1) Why do people often use double-negatives in their speaking?
I think they do it because they think (subconsciously perhaps) that the more negatives they have, the more it emphasizes the point that they DON'T have/know/etc something.

Obviously they don't realise that one cancels out the other.

2) Are double-negatives being transformed into single-positives in spoken language and/or written language? I say, "no" to this but I'm curious what others think.

I hope not! What with the text talk and everything else, the English language is being desecrated enough as it is!

3) Do you think language education (or lack thereof) is the cause?

Yes. Or lack of concentration on what they're saying. Like sometimes my mum will say a double negative when she's angry. But she is educated.


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 01:20 PM

I find double negatives, even when used properly, overly complex (not to the point where I don't understand; to the point where it's just not needed). Why say "I don't disagree" when you can just say "I agree"?

I think a lot of people simply don't understand what they're saying. It's like the "I could care less"/"I couldn't care less" debate. If you could care less, it means you must care to some degree, so it's not really showing much of a dismissal of the topic at hand like it would if you could not care less.

Most double negatives tend to come from regional dialects though, so I put it down to ignorance of what they're saying, and then down to the fact a regional dialect spreads, regardless of whether or not it makes sense.




   
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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 07:32 PM

Most of the time, dialects break certain grammatical parameters. For example, here in the Midwestern United States, double negatives are relatively rare, but when in spoken conversation, "I'm going to go over there" will be spoken as "I'm gunna g'over there"

Double negatives in grammar do bother me, however, because instead of just being a grammatical error, in literal communication it creates the exact opposite of what the person intends to say. If I don't want onions, I say, "I don't want onions." Saying, "I don't want no onions" would literally mean that I do not want NO onions, therefore being that I want onions. But because of dialect, it's widely understood that this person still doesn't want onions.

Yes, I know that was wordy and very obviously stated and written. But I tend to be highly scrutinizing of grammar abuse and misuse.


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 07:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Levar5000 View Post
Because people make mistakes <3
A mistake is when you're rushing on a math test due to anxiety and you accidentally substitute a + for a -. People can learn from their mistakes but if someone keeps doing the same mistake without learning of their error and having no intention to change, then it's clearly something done intentionally, not by accident.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snufkin View Post

Most double negatives tend to come from regional dialects though, so I put it down to ignorance of what they're saying, and then down to the fact a regional dialect spreads, regardless of whether or not it makes sense.
Makes sense, although do you think the regional dialects (this one in particular) would spread to more national or global levels? However, I'm curious, do you attribute the ignorance as a result of poor education of languages or due to something else, or both?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil View Post
Most of the time, dialects break certain grammatical parameters. For example, here in the Midwestern United States, double negatives are relatively rare, but when in spoken conversation, "I'm going to go over there" will be spoken as "I'm gunna g'over there"


While that does violate grammar and spelling parameters, it's not a double negative because taken literally, it means the exact same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil View Post
Double negatives in grammar do bother me, however, because instead of just being a grammatical error, in literal communication it creates the exact opposite of what the person intends to say. If I don't want onions, I say, "I don't want onions." Saying, "I don't want no onions" would literally mean that I do not want NO onions, therefore being that I want onions. But because of dialect, it's widely understood that this person still doesn't want onions.


So do you subscribe to the same argument that Snufkin made of the primary reason being ignorance, then regional dialects OR regional dialects then ignorance?


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 08:02 PM

I've never been much of a grammar nazi, so this never bothers me. I'm very much aware of the rule, but I find that when I talk more informally, in person or online, then I take certain liberties with the rules. Unless you're looking to publish some kind of high quality essay, then you can use any kind of grammar you want as far as I'm concerned.

Though, when I read court decisions it was funny to read double negatives. Something like "This is NOT unconstitutional." They love their double negatives.
   
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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 25th 2011, 11:42 PM

While I understand the point of some double negatives (such as saying, "I don't disagree" rather than saying, "I agree" - sometimes people who do not disagree with something don't necessarily agree either), some of those, "I don't know nothing" just makes people sound incredibly uneducated. No, you're probably not a dimwit but it makes you appear pretty dimwitted...
I wish people would be aware of proper grammar when they speak because it is important, even in an informal conversation with friends.


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 26th 2011, 12:29 AM

Lol I am a bit of a grammar nazi. You're and your kills me every time (even on the internet!). With regards to double negatives I don't actually know many people who use them, but I agree that it does give a bad impression, even though I would guess 95% of the time the point is understood even if it strictly doesn't make sense. I completely see the point of double negatives when used correctly though; they alter the meaning of the sentence. 'I don't disagree' is a much more neutral standpoint than 'I agree'.
   
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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 26th 2011, 02:15 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man And XX Master View Post
So do you subscribe to the same argument that Snufkin made of the primary reason being ignorance, then regional dialects OR regional dialects then ignorance?
I believe it's primarily regional dialect to blame, because they're raised in an environment in which the dialect is learned by culture. If everyone (or a substantial number of people) are using the grammatical anomaly in their regular speech, it evolves into a cultural meme rather than a grammatical error.


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 26th 2011, 07:58 PM

Some people just really couldnt care less about it to be honest... I dont speak in proper english all the time because it doesnt matter to me. Im from manchester, I just say things the same way everyone else round here does. In the grand scheme of things, it isnt really that important unless you are applying for jobs or something like that.


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 26th 2011, 10:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man And XX Master View Post
2) Are double-negatives being transformed into single-positives in spoken language and/or written language? I say, "no" to this but I'm curious what others think.
I always thought double negatives have the effect of canceling and leaving a positive meaning.
At least that's what my English teacher said.


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Re: Double negatives in dialogue - August 28th 2011, 09:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snufkin View Post
I find double negatives, even when used properly, overly complex (not to the point where I don't understand; to the point where it's just not needed). Why say "I don't disagree" when you can just say "I agree"?
Because they have different connotations. "I don't disagree" can imply that the speaker is unsure to what degree they agree, but is sure that it's greater than zero. For example, in response to "Apple pie is frigging awesome:

1. "I agree!"

2. "I don't disagree..."

Would generally be taken to mean two related but different things.


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