What is the opposite word of "not"?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Syzygys, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Counterexample? I can't think of one, offhand - but "not" is a pretty complex word, in its usage.

    It may not have an opposite, as expressions of quality (rather than value) often do not.

    Meanwhile, I'm fond of truly.
     
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  3. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I like "so". But it strikes me as mostly a childhood usage. Very informal. I think I use the slightly more acceptable "too".
     
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  5. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Why do you assume that there has to be an "opposite" to every word?
     
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  7. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    Whoever said that?
     
  8. valich Registered Senior Member

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    That's what the title of the post is asking for.
     
  9. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    To me, the title is asking for the opposite word of "not", not of every word in the English language.

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  10. Blue_UK Drifting Mind Valued Senior Member

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    My second to last post was completely conclusive.
     
  11. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Athelwulf: Yes. You are correct. I was "overly" assuming that iceaura was "assuming" that every word must have an opposite. "Not" does not have a direct one-to-one corresponding opposite. Nor, do many other words - perhaps the majority of words do not have a "direct one-to-one corresponding opposite."
     
  12. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    I always have a problem negating "used to". As in I used to skate on the lake in the winter, when I was a child.

    How do you say the opposite of it? I don't mean "I never skated..." because I occasionally did, just saying that it didn't happen oftentimes? I guess it would be "sometimes I skated..." but that doesn't sound as a pure negative...
     
  13. RickyH Valued Senior Member

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    A small hobby of mine as a child was ice skating, during the winter. maybe?
     
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    I doubt any general language (non-technical) word has a direct, one to one corresponding "opposite".

    This is informal, no? We may toy and play, even in these august forums?

    "So" carries not only a tangential slanginess, but more inappropriate emphasis than "truly" - "You are so busted" has connotations that are not "opposite" of "you are not busted".

    "Truly" feels a bit awkward - but use of it in place of "not" seems to produce something very like the opposite meaning and approximate emphasis, etc.
     
  15. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    "I used to not skate on the lake in the winter when I was a child."

    "I didn't use to skate often on the lake in the winter when I was a child." I guess.

    Or, "I used to not skate often on the lake in the winter when I was a child."
     
  16. Roman Banned Banned

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    How are 'so' and 'too' opposites of not?
     
  17. Prince_James Plutarch (Mickey's Dog) Registered Senior Member

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    "I used to not skate" should not be uttered in English. You ought to change it to "I never used to skate" or "I seldom used to skate".
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Methinks the Prince has a hangup about split infinitives.

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  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Speaking of hangups, we're getting hung up on the meaning of "opposite." Esperanto has a prefix that actually means "opposite": mal-. It's instructive to see how it works. Varma means "hot." Malvarma tago is a "cold day," i.e. weather that requires bundling up, not just a "day that is not hot," i.e. one that is comfortable because you won't get a sunburn. That is just the "negative," not the "opposite."

    Notice that in language, unlike Boolean logic, "negative" and "opposite" are not the same thing. The opposite of "John is rich" is "John is poor." To say the negative, "John is not rich," does not mean that he is poor.
     
  20. Roman Banned Banned

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    Wouldn't 'not', being a negative, mean it's opposite is a positive?

    The opposite of rich is poor. The opposite of hard is soft.
    The opposite of existence is the null. Right? Or would it be antimatter?
     
  21. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    Why not?

    Why?
     
  22. Roman Banned Banned

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    Split infinitive.
     
  23. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I figured that after I read Fraggle's post. I just wanted to hear it from PJ to be sure. Isn't that rule based on the fact that you can't split infinitives in Latin?
     

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