H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
advocates it. The double negative, said a writer in the London Review a long time ago,101 has been abandoned to the great injury of strength of expression. Surely I wont take nothing is stronger than either I will take nothing or I wont take anything.
9. Other Syntactical Peculiarities
Language begins, says Sayce, with sentences, not with single words. In a speech in process of rapid development, unrestrained by critical analysis, the tendency to sacrifice the integrity of words to the needs of the complete sentence is especially marked. One finds it clearly in American. Already we have examined various assimilation and composition forms: thatn, useto, woulda, themere and so on. Many others are observable. Offn is a good example; it comes from off of and shows a preposition decaying to the form of a mere inflectional particle. One constantly hears I bought it offn John. Sorta, kinda and their like follow in the footsteps of woulda. Usent follows the analogy of dont and wouldnt, as in I didnt usent to be. Wouldve and shouldve are widely used; Lardner commonly hears them as would of and should of. The neutral a-particle also appears in other situations, especially before way, as in that-a way and this-a way. It is found again in a tall, a liaison form of at all.102
Various minor syntactical peculiarities may be noticed; an exhaustive study of them would afford materials for a whole volume. The use of all the further, as in, it was all the further I could go, seems to be American. It has bred many analogues, e. g., is that all the later it is? Another curious formation employs there with various negatives in an unusual way; it is illustrated in there cant anyone break me. Again, there is the use of in in such constructions as he caught in back of the plate, apparently suggested