sailing down <no> hill

VicNicSor

Senior Member
Russian
#1
Eddie doesn't want to go down a snowy hill on a sled-like basin, because of a plate in his head:
- I don't know if I outta go sailing down no hill with nothing between the ground and my brain but a piece of government plastic.
Christmas Vacation, movie

Why is he saying the "no"? I just can't understand this.
Thanks.
 
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    #2
    It's because the character in the movie, like many fictional characters, doesn't speak proper English. Correctly, he would have said, "I don't know if I ought to go sailing down a hill . . . ".
     
    English - US
    #3
    It's slang. Usually attributed to hillbillies or rednecks. Just think of it as having the same meaning as "any."

    "I can't be havin' no ice cream today."

    means

    "I can't have any ice cream today."
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    English (American).
    #6
    Vik, very informally*, double negatives are used for emphasis. Hence "I won't go down any hill" becomes "I won't go down no hill." Child refusing oatmeal, says to parent,
    "I'm not eating no oatmeal!" {If I recall, does this not happen in Russian?}

    "Did you take some cookies? [accusing]" "I didn't take no cookies!"

    ==
    *breaking the usual, current rules of standard English---but double negatives do appear in literature with this meaning (not the logical one). See discussion at

    http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/31667/are-double-negatives-ever-appropriate-in-english
     
    Last edited:

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    #8
    Yes, Benny, thanks, I see what you and Shiggles mean, I know about double negatives, but I thought Eddie didn't use that. I mean, he says:
    I don't know if [starting a new positive clause] I outta go sailing down no hill.
    I thought it's something other than a thing like "I won't go down no hill." (one clause, two negations)
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    English (American).
    #10
    These people are not grammarians, Vik, and don't pay attention to no fine distinctions like you're talking!
     
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