Double Negatives

Adam   Friday, March 12, 2004, 20:38 GMT
Double negatives annoy me. When someone says "I don't want nothing" it means that they want something.
Chilli   Friday, March 12, 2004, 20:39 GMT
Whoops. Sorry, English, you're absolutely right. Mice is never singular. My bad.

"Double negatives are not wrong in your language, English, they are wrong in your head." LOL. I should come here more often. I know that wasn't supposed to be funny but I've drunk one too many espresso's and turned into a pumpkin.
Chilli   Friday, March 12, 2004, 20:43 GMT
Correction, English, I was talking about double negatives in British English (my native tongue).

Do you mean that they are wrong in the language that you have decided to adopt as your own? (I'm not being sarcastic; just making sure.) Or do you mean that they are wrong in British or American English?

If you mean the second, then I have to disagree. The main point of language is to make a point and be understood clearly. If what is said is perfectly comprehensible, then why does it have to be 'wrong' or 'right'? And a double negative can more often than not help to act as an intensifier, for example: "I don't want none" can be understood to mean "I *really* don't want any".

If it helps get across the subtlest shades of meaning, then why do away with it?
Harbinger   Friday, March 12, 2004, 21:37 GMT
I am also English (I'm pretty sure Chaucer and Shakespeare were too!) and I am talking about English (as well as Spanish and French). All English speakers use double negatives, and I bet you have too.

English, have you ever said: "It's not unusual"? If so, you have used a double negative - 'not' is a negative and 'unusual' (meaning 'not usual') is a negative. So, you see, even standard English speakers use double negatives. Are you prepared to say that all English speakers are wrong now? I doubt it.

(Am I alone in thinking that English and Adam have either not bothered to read the previous posts on this thread properly or have difficulty understanding them?)
Chilli   Friday, March 12, 2004, 22:18 GMT
Rules are very comfortable; especially linear, black and white ones like, "All xyz's are wrong, and all abc's are right". I think double negatives are going to be a point of cheerful irritation for Angry from Tadcaster for the next five generations at least.
English   Friday, March 12, 2004, 22:54 GMT
I'm am spoken in many different countries and in all of those countries double negatives are wrong.

Harbinger, You said you were English. You're not, your ''hambinger''. You typed ''Harbinger'' as your name not ''English''. The name of my language is not ''Spanish'' or ''French'' or anything like that but ''English''. Did I type ''Spanish'' or ''French'' as my name? No. Double negatives are wrong.
Alice   Friday, March 12, 2004, 23:03 GMT
There is a distinct difference between phrases such as "I don't want none" and "it's not unusual". While in the first, the double negative serves to negate, (at least technically), the point the speaker is making, in the second, it just expresses the point in a slightly convoluted manner.