Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Positive Anymore 2: Revenge Of The Isogloss

If you don't know what positive 'anymore' means, you can read my description here or you can read something a bit more technical here. In fact, if you follow this last link, you will read
The distribution of positive "anymore" is only vaguely geographic; mostly it's social dialects -- speech groups not necessarily distinguished by location -- that show it.
This is true, for the most part, but I think there are nevertheless geographic limits, outside of which no one of any social group uses positive 'anymore'. The problem is, I don't really know where these limits are. Astute commenter and aspiring professional dialectologist Corrine/Queenie recently joked that the boundary ran through Chicago's western suburbs. Though she was joking, this may in fact be the case.

A while back I wrote about American words for 'soft drink', and I included a beautiful map based entirely on responses from an online survey. So this got me thinking: why can't I do the same thing for positive 'anymore'?

Here's where you come in. Tell me two things: 1) if you find the sentence "Gas sure is expensive anymore" shocking, or would have found it shocking at some point (not whether you've heard such sentences or if you use them) and 2) the zip code where you spent the biggest chunk of the first ten years of your life. Then bug your friends to do the same. I expect that in a few years I'll have enough thoroughly unscientific data to make an equally unscientific map. Maybe then I'll be able to sleep at night.

A confession:
I don't use positive 'anymore' natively. At least I don't think I do. I think that anymore I use it as an affectation of sorts, or as marked speech. But just because it isn't part of my dialect doesn't mean I can't love it.

41 comments:

Queenie said...

i'm sure you've seen this and it really just made things worse:

http://cfprod01.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_56.html

rock on with your bad self! i'll try to refer people here.

Anonymous said...

I don't use it, and thought it was completely bizarre the first time I heard it. I like it now. A friend's father says it and it always makes me happy to hang out with him.

I'm from 70501.

Anonymous said...

i have never heard of that crazy use of "anymore" and i would think someone nuts if they said that sentence to me. i live in 98117, but grew up in 60618.

Ben said...

Ooh, I've already got data for Chicago!
Thanks for the info, anonymous 1 & 2.

Corrine,
Indeed, I have seen that map. I'm sure the data is interesting and useful, but those maps sure don't present it in a meaningful way. Oddly enough, I went to grade school with Bert Vaux's sister. Small world, eh?

Anonymous said...

If you want more answers, you should post your question as a MySpace bulletin or something.

Anonymous said...

I don't have positive anymore in my native repertoire, zip code 02066.

-mcd

Ben said...

A MySpace bulletin isn't a bad idea. I'm also looking at setting up a website or something, so people can just pass along the url. Anybody have other thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I have nothing to say about MySpace or other website issues, but I can tell you that I am a proud, native positive anymore user. In your sample sentence, I prefer 'anymore' to be at the beginning, but it's okay at the end. I grew up in 46240.

Anonymous said...

that sounds ridiculous to me. never heard that crazy shizzle. people need to talkrite. reprezentin' from tha 60660, yo!

Queenie said...

i got two votes from chicago people in their 60s obtained via telephone.

60629 says "what?!" i.e. no.
60620 (or thereabouts) says "don't you mean isn't expensive?" i.e. no.

Ben said...

Two Chicagoan informants in their sixties, reached by telephone, eh? Yeah, I've got two of those as well, but one of them is a linguist and the other is married to a linguist, so I don't trust them.

The one thing that has emerged so far is that positive 'anymore' is foreign to Chicago. There may be hope for the Hinsdale-Wheaton isogloss yet!

Queenie said...

Well, mine definitely are not linguists. So they count. I'm certain that I'm the only linguist they've ever met, in fact.

I know someone from Wheaton. I will refer him here.

AJD said...

I would have regarded that as totally ungrammatical, yeah. Just a word of warning, though: for some reason people have a record of, on average, returning harsher grammaticality judgments for positive anymore than they actually ought to—e.g., people claiming they find it crashingly ungrammatical until confronted with recordings of themselves using it.

Anonymous said...

Shocking!

10468 (the Bronx).

Luke said...

Shocking!
06484 (Shelton, CT)

Six others from 06484 report the same.

AJD said...

Oop! I just noticed I didn't give my Zip code. 01915.

V Smoothe said...

I posted above anonymously (didn't have a blogger ID). Anyway, the only person I know who says it is a 55 year old man who grew up in Philly (I don't know what zip code). Oh, and my parents are both from Connecticut (Greenwich and Hartford), and neither of them say it. Hope I helped.

Ben said...

V-Smoothe,
"The only person I know who says it is a 55 year old man who grew up in Philly," you write. And yet I remember a certain guy from Ohio you know fairly well who uses positive anymore.

Bomber said...

As a product of the Chicago suburbs, I can say that I never heard this expression...EVER! I had to read it over several times to try to figure out what it meant...60053/60093. It is interesting and now I hope to catch someone saying it! I'll think they're wrong but it will make me smile.

Ben said...

Thanks for the data. My guess, Bomber, is that you'll hear it sooner than you think. And smile.

Anonymous said...

I would say no, that is meaningless, I've never heard anyone say such a thing.

60630 in da house!

Ben said...

Awesome - I'd been hoping for some data about the Northwest side!

Incidentally, my word confirmation word is an Icelandic delicacy, hlahdvtg.

nbm said...

Never heard it in my little hometown. Native 10024, now 11231.

j said...

I'm jaded now that I've read about this usage before but I don't use it and would have at one point found it 'shocking'.

I spent the first ten years at 60411 and 60466 (south suburbs in the 1970's)

Currently at 60622

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Ari said...

I sometimes work it in to my speech anymore but I think it has to do more with where my dad grew up (18704) than where I did (02466).

Anonymous said...

i still cant get used to it, its worse than shocking, I'd say grating. I mean no offense to the users of Positive Anymore, its my problem, not being able to take it. It makes so much sense to extend the meaning, and i have to respect that logic.

Ive heard it from central/south-eastern michiganders, not northern or western michiganders, I feel like there may be a line thru michigan, not chicago, do we have any datapoints there?

I might get used to it someday but i hope not to.
05XXX vt

Anonymous said...

The positive anymore absolutely makes my ears bleed. It sounds ridiculous when you think about it.

39047

Anonymous said...

I've lived in DuPage County, and both of my parents were born and raised there. We also lived in southern Illinois for a couple years. I never heard "anymore" used positively in those places, unless it was put at the end of the sentence and used in a limiting sense, as in "That's the only thing he'll eat anymore."

admin said...

I find it shocking - 54021

Anonymous said...

I realize this post is quite old, but... I use this constantly, and most people I know use it constantly, including my parents. I grew up in Denver (80222), my parents in Utah, and I now live in the Pacific Northwest. The *only* time I've ever been questioned on this construction is typing it online.

Anonymous said...

I use it quite frequently, as does my family. We're from mid-Michigan. We also say pop! The only time my use of PA has been in question has been at the in-laws in Chicago. They found it quite odd, and to be honest I wasn't aware that it was not used by other people!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Definitely a 'positive anymore' user... never thought anything of it until this moment when my roommate (from CT) looked at me like a crazy. Grew up in 08088. I live in 10029 now, but i don't think it's used much here ;)

Anonymous said...

positive anymore definitely sounds wrong to me. zip: 97405 (oregon)

Anonymous said...

I find this positive anymore absolutely terrifying. It is like nails on a chalk board to my ears. I hate it. I had never heard of it or even considered it as a possibility before a friend mentioned it yesterday and promptly shared this link. Terrifying I tell you.

18109.

Giulia said...

Thank you thank you for posting about this issue. I had NO idea what an interesting topic this was until my husband made a comment the other day, and pointed out my use of the word, "any more" in a sentence like, "Anymore, I just can't eat red meat." He said he had never heard such a use and I suddenly realized how strange it sounded. I don't know where I picked it up but I love the fact that some people find it shocking. He's from CT 06825 and I'm from 81416.

Distraida do Nacimento said...

English is not my first language and even though I would never use the "positive anymore" in writing, I use it occasionally when I speak. I am well aware of the fact that it is non-standard English, but I use it anyway. My husband (whose first language is English and works in communication) picks on me constantly, so I was beyond happy when I found a "positive anymore" in the novel Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster:
"...a French kiss with a French girl who was suddenly the only person who counted anymore." Gotta love Paul Auster.

Distraida do Nacimento said...

I forgot: my ZC is 13901. I thought it was a colloquialism in Upstate NY and PA, Paul Auster lives in Brooklin.

Anonymous said...

I use positive anymore all the time. I don't think I picked it up in 48187 where I grew up, but I don't think I ever found it shocking. I think I'm more likely to have picked it up in either 92675 or 84606, where I've been living between for about the past ten years... but I'm actually trying to figure that out, because I have no idea where I got it.

Bunnie said...

I don't know how old this blog is, but i figured i could contribute... I found your blog after hearing my boyfriend and his friend use 'positive anymore' - it drives me crazy ("it's worthless to him anymore" **insert me cringing here**). We're all from central jersey. I should also add that I'm known as a 'grammar nazi' among my friends teehee.

Bunnie said...

Now that I think about it, I guess "it's worthless to him anymore" isn't a 'positive anymore" it's just a "wrong anymore"