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Re: Negation raising (was: introduction)

From:Wesley Parish <wes.parish@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 31, 2002, 11:48
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 23:15, Tristan McLeay wrote:
> On Wed, 2002-07-31 at 20:59, Wesley Parish wrote: > > On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 10:14, Christian Thalmann wrote: > > > --- In conlang@y..., John Cowan <jcowan@R...> wrote: > > > > Christophe Grandsire scripsit: > > > > > I think I don't need to give a translation :))) > > > > > > > > I point out this Christophe-ism, not in the spirit of correction, but > > > > rather in the spirit of letting the imagination run away with it. > > > > In English, "I think ..." raises negation from the embedded sentence > > > > to the matrix, so we express this as "I don't think I need ...". > > > > This can happen even across sentences... > > > > > > I have this weird sentence in my head... could one of you native > > > speakers tell me whether it's actual spoken English or just another > > > brainfart of mine? ;-) > > > > > > "I can't seem to do it" meaning "It seems that I can't do it." > > > > Valid English in my part of the world. it seems that the phrase "I can't > > seem" is regarded as being equal to "It seems I can't", and the last few > > words are a separate clause altogether. > > I'm probably wrong here, but is that in any way comparable to 'Meseems' > and 'Methinks', from earlier 'to me it seems' and 'to me it thinks', > meaning 'it seems to me' or 'I think'?
That's probably the way it happened. In a lot of languages states of mind are referred to in the third person plus dative of the person concerned, and in English this has changed to the first person of the person concerned and so on. so this phrase gets used as a compact version of the fuller phrase, and no one's upset, except for non-Engl-as-L1 speakers, who can't make head or tail of it. Certainly, the positive of it is still "It seems I can do x" rather than "I can seem to do x", which is a different sentence altogether. Wesley Parish
> > Tristan.
-- Mau e ki, "He aha te mea nui?" You ask, "What is the most important thing?" Maku e ki, "He tangata, he tangata, he tangata." I reply, "It is people, it is people, it is people."