I don't want to talk about <either><neither> X nor Y.

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sisedesnonis

Senior Member
Italian-Venetian
Hi everyone,
I have a nice, difficult topic for you today. I've always wondered how it changes (if it ever changes...) the meaning of a given sentence when it is negative, or positive, and when you use different conjuctions. I'm referring to sentences when there is a correletion between two elements.
Just use this sentence as a model:

E.g.

I don't wanna talk about X, or Y. To me it sounds as though the speaker doesn't wanna talk about X, and doesn't wanna talk about Y as well.
Could we replace "or" with "nor"? I don't think so, because it's been taught to me that (expect few exceptions...) we cannot have a double negative, therefore the sentence I don't wanna talk about X, nor Y. would be wrong.
If what I said so far is correct, I think that the same goes for "either" and "neither". So, I think that I don't wanna talk about either X, or Y. is as correct as I wanna talk about neither X, nor Y. And I don't wanna talk about neither X, nor Y. should be incorrect because there is a double negative.
 
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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I can't get past all those "wannas".:cool: The algebraic X,Y don't help either. Sentences with words are easer to deal with.

    "I don't wanna" - I'm afraid this sounds like a spoilt child speaking.

    This native might feel like chiming in if you were to consider each example sentence separately, rather than en bloc. With all the striking-out too, it's a little hard to read.:(
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Well, this native is willing to do a deal: I'll put up with all the "wannas" - just this once - if you let me use "him" instead of "X" and "her" instead of "Y". Okay :)?

    I don't wanna talk about him, or her. = you don't want to talk about either of them, not him, not her.
    I don't wanna talk about him, nor her. = you don't want to talk about him, nor [do you want to talk about] her. Sounds a bit odd, but I don't think it's actually a double negative.
    I don't wanna talk about either him or her. = same as the first one but you don't need the comma.
    I wanna talk about neither X nor Y. = sounds a bit stilted to me and positively weird with 'wanna'.
    I don't wanna talk about neither X, nor Y. = a double negative and is grammatically wrong.

    Chiming completed. :D

    PS - Seriously, please don't use 'wanna' in your forum posts. ;)
     

    sisedesnonis

    Senior Member
    Italian-Venetian
    Well, this native is willing to do a deal: I'll put up with all the "wannas" - just this once - if you let me use "him" instead of "X" and "her" instead of "Y". Okay :)?

    I don't wanna talk about him, or her. = you don't want to talk about either of them, not him, not her.
    I don't wanna talk about him, nor her. = you don't want to talk about him, nor [do you want to talk about] her. Sounds a bit odd, but I don't think it's actually a double negative.
    I don't wanna talk about either him or her. = same as the first one but you don't need the comma.
    I wanna talk about neither X nor Y. = sounds a bit stilted to me and positively weird with 'wanna'.
    I don't wanna talk about neither X, nor Y. = a double negative and is grammatically wrong.

    Chiming completed. :D

    PS - Seriously, please don't use 'wanna' in your forum posts. ;)
    Haha ok. Thank you.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    1 I don't want to talk about cabbages or kings.
    2 I don't want to talk about cabbages, nor about kings.
    Not a double negative.
    3 I don't want to talk about either cabbages or kings. :thumbsdown:
    4 I want to talk about neither cabbages nor kings.
    5 I don't want to talk about neither cabbages, nor kings
    .:cross: double negative, and not idiomatic neither ;).

    I see I'm pretty much in agreement with DonnyB.:) For me, only (1) is for use in everyday conversation. I think (4) is correct, but usable only in a certain style of speaking/writing.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    I agree that the best option is #1.
    3 I don't want to talk about either cabbages or kings. :thumbsdown:

    I'm not so quick to condemn this one, especially if someone has asked me to talk about both, and I stress the "or".
    I would suggest that an "or" construction can be used either with (#3) or without (#1) a preceding "either".
    The "either" serves as a gentle forewarning that an "or" construction will follow.
     
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