Writing for Business

Jan 9 2013   9:32PM GMT

More on positive “anymore”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Yesterday I was writing about the use of anymore in positive constructions, as in “I write about grammar anymore.” The responses to that post were fairly evenly split between people who were shocked that anyone would use the word that way and people who were surprised that anyone might think that use wrong.

I understood positive anymore to be used as a synonym for “these days” or “nowadays.” It seems that it’s also sometimes used to mean “from now on.” The Wikipedia entry for positive anymore traces that use back to Northern Ireland at the turn of the 20th century:

“A servant being instructed how to act, will answer ‘I will do it any more’.” (Northern Ireland, c. 1898)[6] (From  The English Dialect Dictionary, 1898)

And spots it again, getting on for the turn of the 21st century:

“I’ll be getting six or seven days’ holiday anymore.” (Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1981)[3]

From the Wikipedia entry: “Positive anymore occurs in North American English, especially in the Midlands variety spoken in parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri; its usage extends to Utah and some other western US states.” According to some linguists, it came to North America through Scottish/Irish sources.

On his linguistics blog, Ryan Denzer-King writes that “anymore” is what is called a negative polarity item (NPI): “NPIs are words or phrases that have to be scoped under some sort of negation, irrealis, or otherwise nonaffirmative clause.”

So, that’s where we are with that issue anymore … er, that anymore issue.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

4  Comments on this Post

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  • MarRojo
    I love this comment from a "positive any more" user:

    "Incontrovertible examples of positive
    any more sentences, like the following ones, always
    tax the processing powers of people with standard grammars:

    Mechanics charge a lot any more.
    I get a lot of junk mail any more.

    Sentences like these, incidentally, sometimes also tax their patience. Questions in the Dialect Topography questionnaire on positive any more sentences (as cited in the next section) tended to elicit vituperative marginalia from many otherwise mild-mannered respondents (including comments like ‘Bad grammar,’ ‘This is stupid!’ and ‘No one in their right mind talks like this’). As a native speaker of positive any more , I found those reactions puzzling at first and amusing after a while."
    10 pointsBadges:
  • MarRojo
    This is the source of that comment: http://www.lacus.org/volumes/33/chambers_j.pdf
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  • MarRojo
    It can also mean "soon".A Scottish-Irish example that is different from the "nowadays" use:"It’s warm for the time of year an it’ll be warmer any more."
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