Great example of how a quotative works

My grandson was speaking of a little kid in his karate class and he said, “Christian does not like not pay attention.” The first thing that struck me was the ‘not…not’ usage, as in “we cannot not go”, unusual but not uncommon. Then I thought about the ‘like’. That usage gets condemned a lot by the Ben Stein/John Simon crowd of usage police. However, I had the word “quotative” from linguistics to latch onto (which is why the Stein/Simon crowd hates linguistics) and I thought about the function of “like” there and it resolved this way: Christian does not, as people say, not pay attention; he does pay attention.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *