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A New Correlative Conjunction?

I suppose this more of speculation and bit of a question. I have noticed some quotations of ‘nor’ paired with ‘not’ (typically a comma follows not and whatever it is negating), for example:

“Battery D did not stop at the first, nor the second, but halt was made at what was ...”

“These bonds did not give their owners the privilege of using them as a basis for bank-note circulation, nor was there any other privilege...”

“... meaning of its message so clearly, so simply, and yet so earnestly, and with such a passionate longing that from York Hill there should indeed radiate “Peace and good will towards all men,” that not the stupidest nor the most frivolous girl but was touched to a sense of higher ideals and...”

All quotes are provided by in the quotations for ‘nor’.

Is it possible that this could become a correlative conjunction paired with ‘not’ or possibly a substitution for ‘neither’ in the “neither-nor” pair? Or maybe, has ‘not’ been a viable substitute for ‘neither’ for years without notice?

This idea tenuously excites me.

  • February 5, 2014
  • Posted by Jasper
  • Filed in Usage

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I don't think there's anything new here. This is Oxford Online:

used before the second or further of two or more alternatives (the first being introduced by a negative such as ‘neither’ or ‘not’) - to which we could add 'never'

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary calls it rather formal.

The following are from the Sonnets at the very beginning of the Complete Shakespeare at Project Gutenberg, without even looking at the plays, nor even all the sonnets:

"O carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen,"

"Then happy I that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed."

"That heals the wound, and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief,"

" I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
Nor thou with public kindness honour me"

"When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong but time decays?"

" Let not my love be called idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,'

"Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul,'

"Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,"

Warsaw Will February 26, 2014, 9:34am

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@Warsaw Will,

Sorry, for the late reply. Yes, I am aware of the existence of the pairing of not, or never, which I agree could/is another substitution, and nor, but I think it would be more accurate for me to say that I am more hopeful for the drop of the comma from the pairing. I just want to see more of:

I do not love her nor hate her.
I have never hurt nor killed another person.

Also, I have seen nor followed by "do/does" and I think it's similar to "fronting" (that's what I'll call it and link for the info.: Here is a quote of "nor do/does":

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." ~Helen Keller~


Now when I see the comma, my mind instinctively thinks "coordinating conjunction", but the "do/does" "fronting" has bothered me, syntactically that is.

I've also been having a "discussion" with Amazon reviewer who, if I am understanding correctly, does not believe in the perfect tense/aspect, or, as one other commenter has suggested, is a troll.

Jasper March 8, 2014, 6:13pm

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@Jasper, I wouldn't call that fronting but simple inversion, which is compulsory after 'nor', whereas fronting is always optional:

She doesn't smoke, and nor do I.

Look at your own examples, for example the Helen Keller one, where the inversion is necessary. And look what happens when you add auxiliaries to your other examples - you have to invert:

I do not love her nor hate her. - I do not love her nor do I hate her.
(Or more natural for me - I neither love her nor hate her - at true correlative construction)

I have never hurt nor killed another person. I have never hurt another person nor have I killed one.

This inversion is just following the same rule as in 'Do do I', 'Neither do I', 'Nor do I' in short answers. It's not dependent on a previous negative.

Then there is negative and limiting adverb inversion, which is optional.

Never have I been so badly treated.
Only when I see her will I know the truth.
Little does he know what's in store for him.

Negative inversion, which is optional, could be seen as a kind of fronting, which is putting something before the subject when it usually follows it for special effect and is purely optional. It is most commonly used with adverbs of place and noun clauses (that clauses, wh-clauses, infinitive clauses)

I looked up and there he was.
What you're talking about I have no idea.
To run a marathon is my dream.
The water looked very inviting, so in we jumped.

Warsaw Will March 9, 2014, 8:40am

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@Jasper - I've just noticed a difference between you two example sentences:

I do not love her nor hate her.
I have never hurt nor killed another person.

The second one works for me as it has a parallel structure, but the first one doesn't (for me at least). If we have a negating not, I think either the second half needs a subject, or we have to express it a different way - which is why I'd prefer something like:

I neither love her nor hate her. - correlative
I don't love her but nor do I hate her. - simple parallel negative (with compulsory inversion)

There really does seem to be a difference between a simple not and neither / never. The latter seem to form a natural parallel partnership with nor, but I'm not so sure not does.

Warsaw Will March 9, 2014, 9:13am

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English has been described as a residual verb-comes-second (V2) tongue. Thus we can say:
a. Most sought are upper-income people, who tend to keep large balances wth the bank. (from Birner 1995: 239)
b. They have a great big tank in the kitchen, and in the tank are sitting all of these pots
. (from Birner 1995: 241).

Using neither (in front of the first verb) .... nor , usually triggers a V2 structure.

jayles March 9, 2014, 2:29pm

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@jayles - I think I'll just stick with subject-verb inversion - to complete your quote from Marit Westergaard at Tromsø:

"Within traditional grammar, this is often called subject-verb inversion (e.g. Quirk et al.
1985), or VP inversion (e.g. Haukenes 1998)"

Quirk et al (The Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 1985) traditional grammar - I like that one! Well if that's traditional, I'm a traditionalist.

Warsaw Will March 10, 2014, 2:45pm

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@WW all a bit too academic for me; in teaching I just use SV[OPT] to represent a clause, as in "Although SV[OPT], SV[OPT]."; and with add-ins as needed like:
QxSV[OPT]? or SVOMPT or SxMpp[OPT] - for "She had quickly walked her dog down the street the night before." where P=place T=time x=auxiliary M=manner Q=question-word. Indeed I pronounce it "svopt" so sts remember it, so I don't need to explain or use "clause".
It is my Vergeltungswaffe.

jayles March 10, 2014, 5:08pm

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@jayles - do I not remember you advocating keeping technical stuff to a minimum? I had no idea what your SV[OPT] meant until I saw your explanation, and realised I had told a student the same this morning (she had put place before object), but I just used the words. Do you really think QxSV[OPT] and SVOMPT or SxMpp[OPT] are simpler than saying clause? They may be a mnemonic for you, but the last one, for example, is just gobbledygook to me. Sorry.

Warsaw Will March 11, 2014, 1:46pm

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@WW I just use plain SV[OPT} 95% of the time. Romance and Germanic languages are usually Time-Manner-Place TMP as opposed to English often MPT, and VO unsplittable.
Slav languages tend to put old info first, new info last. Verb comes at the end in Korean
and uses post-positions and no separate relative clauses so that's why we need to addess word order:
(In English) I go to the shops in-order -to buy bread
(in Korean) I (optional) bread buy - in-order to shops to go

The Konglish for this sentence in Korean would be na-do ppang sa-ro kayo (I-do bread buy-in order-to go).
Horses for courses.

jayles March 11, 2014, 2:27pm

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@WW Just a bit more on SV[OPT}: I actually picked it up from my boss at IH in Europe sometime last century, but I can't recall using it in Europe; maybe it isn't needed there. However working at IH with SE Asian students I rediscovered it: most Koreans already know SVO from school anyway so it makes sense to build on it as a platform, so that we can discuss "i every day go to supermarket" and so forth.
I can't recall teaching anyone from North Korea, Mongolia, sub-Saharan Africa (other than Mali) or Turkmenistan, Bhutan or Kirghizstan but I thnk I've done the rest. (Apart from English-spaking). So I need something that works across cultures and tongues.

jayles the unwise March 18, 2014, 6:42pm

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@jayles - within the structure of SVO etc English also puts old info first and info later, which is why passive can be useful, as well as delaying constructions like 'there is/are'. We also like to put longer bits of information last - end-weighting.

Warsaw Will March 18, 2014, 11:55pm

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@jayles - sorry that should have been new info later. Can you confirm that in:

SxMpp[OPT] - for "She had quickly walked her dog down the street the night before."

x = Aux and pp = past participle (or present participle in continuous)?

You might be interested in this - ten sentence patterns:

Warsaw Will March 19, 2014, 9:50am

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@WW Confirmed. Or just write it up as SxMV[OPT] if sts don't know 'pp' already. The point here is one could say:
"She walked her dog quickly down the street at dusk" => SV[OMPT] ;
or "She quickly walked her dog ..." SMV[OPT]
ie manner is often has two 'normal' positions,
but "NEVER split VO" (unless...blah blah)

The site mentioned is quite right; however personally I strive to avoid explaining complement/object and direct/indirect-object distinctions, although the latter should be easy enough in Europe with its dative-case-equipped languages. The bogey though is often languages like Russian and Hungarian that don't use the verb 'be' in the present, and Chinese with its 'adjectival verbs'.

If English were a bit more sysematic (like V2 German), things would be easier!

jayles March 19, 2014, 2:58pm

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@WW BTW I've never really sorted out how to write up ;
"Who hit the teacher?"
"Who did the teacher hit?"

jayles March 19, 2014, 3:13pm

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SVO for "Who hit the teacher?" or IsVO

Ips/Is=interrogative pronoun as subject

OxSV/IoxSV for "Who(m) did the teacher hit?"

Ipo/Io=Interrogative pronoun as object

Jasper March 19, 2014, 11:58pm

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@Jasper yes; using "Q" to mean "question word" doesn't really work. Perhaps just better to start with a question mark like:
?SVO = Who hit the teacher?
?OxSV = Who did the teacher hit?
?TxSVO = When did the teacher hit you?

The other mnemonic I have used on occasion are "C" for comment,cause,and concession words/phrases:

"Evidently, she picked him up at the airport." => C,SVO'P where ' marks where the separable phrasal verb particle goes.

[It's really just something to write on the board when teaching so KIS to get the point across]

jayles March 20, 2014, 1:31am

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@jayles - I don't use any of these, except for the original, but I'm afraid your stuff looks too much like mathematical formulae for me.

As for question forms, I like good old-fashioned QASI or QASV to be more precise:
Question word + Auxiliary + Subj + Infinitive (i.e.Verb), but not many students take it in.

And then explain that the exception is when the Q-word refers to the subject, as in 'Who hit the teacher'

I do use subject complement occasionally, as it's sometimes used in course books, but object complements are so uncommon it's not worth the hassle. All my students know what a subject is but that's about it. I'd far rather they learnt instinctively than through formal grammar.

Warsaw Will March 20, 2014, 1:34am

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@Warsaw Will,

Funnily enough, I've actually thought of clauses in mathematical terms.

For example, an independent clause would be x; a subordinate clause would be some kind of sinusoidal function. When added together, they make a sentence, a function:

x=I have loved Mary
sin(y)=since (we were young)

Thus, "I have loved Mary since we were young".

Jasper March 20, 2014, 3:03am

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@jayles - Sorry, but you've totally lost me. No, don't try and explain, I'm just no good at maths. But I do like language.

Warsaw Will March 20, 2014, 11:32am

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@WW you meant "@Jasper" ?

jayles March 20, 2014, 2:17pm

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@jayles and Jasper - many apologies - I got confused with all these formulae - I didn't take in that there were two of you at it.

Warsaw Will March 21, 2014, 4:25am

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Yes     No