Auros (auros) wrote,

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Why don't people understand the word "anymore" anymore?

I have noticed, with increasing frequency, the use of the word "anymore" in a positive sense. Somebody did it on Talk of the Nation today, though I've now forgotten the exact context... The kind of thing I'm talking about is, "I used to prefer chocolate, but I prefer vanilla anymore." The word gets used to describe an activity that started at some point in the recent past, and is ongoing.

From my point of view as a descriptive linguist, this is kind of fascinating; it's an interesting generalization of the word, which used to only be usable to talk about an activity that ceased in the recent past, and is expected not to start again. "I used to like chocolate, but now I like vanilla -- I don't like chocolate anymore." English actually does usually play fast and loose with negative versus positive inflections. (Anyone who speaks Spanish is familiar with the stricter version of this, the way that the negative/positive on the verb affects the use of words like "ningun" or "nadie".)

But from the prescriptivist, former-writing-tutor point of view, it makes my skin crawl. Quit doing that, people! It's not like the etymology of the word is unclear. "I won't do X any more." It does not continue. There is not any more of it. In the positive, you have to use "some" rather than "any". "Please sir, may I have some more." "I think I will jog some more tomorrow."

This may be the first widespread linguistic error/evolution that I have found even more annoying than the degeneration of the difference between the adjectives "nauseated" (suffering from nausea), and "nauseous" (which used to mean "so disgusting as to cause nausea in nearby persons" -- a synonym for "nauseating"). People have used it incorrectly for so long, and so widely, that M-W now has a usage note declaring that current usage is dominated by the "nauseated" meaning, and therefore people who think the word ought to mean what it meant for hundreds of years ("nausea" and its various inflections date back to the 16th century, and originally referred specifically to seasickness -- note the similarity to "nautical") before ignorant valley girls misappropriated it are "mistaken". I find that kind of rootless ahistoricism... nauseous.

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