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Double Don't

  • Written: [We don't don't stab at others because we tolerate them. We don't stab at others because they are the same as us」
  • versus
  • Spoken: 「We don't stab at others because we tolerate them. We don't stab at others because they are the same as us.」

I made this comment in a discussion on G+; talking about racism. The other person was stressing toleration between races. I advocate racial mixing (an idea which I was first exposed to in the film 「Bulworth」, later read about in a more serious light, and now believe in) as making clean categories and racism utterly impossible. Anyhow, this is about grammar!

In the spoken form of that sentence, I have only one 「don't」 in the first part, and prosody would make clear that I am dismissing the first idea (and validate the linguistic shortcut of a single don't). In the written form, lacking the ability to do that with prosody I am forced to write it out. There may be better ways to write this out, and for those who are formalists, the latter will certainly feel incorrect (biased a bit by being in an alien medium, but even still). I am confident that anyone hearing it spoken would understand me though, and I suspect omitting the double don't in speech would feel natural to a fair set of them too, given prosody. (There may be other ways of saying this, but many of them are awkwardsauce and nothing more elegant immediately comes to mind; once someone has reached sufficient mastery of language, it's probably better they spend their time on other things for essentially-throwaway conversation provided what they say is clear and at least reasonably well-crafted)


Maybe i'm missing your meaning, but what's wrong with "We don't not stab at others ..." ? The double don't is pretty much unparseable to me, but my recovery facilities suggest the correction to don't not.
The way I'm phrasing it is trying to keep the "don't stab at others" common to both statements so as to illustrate the contrast.
I'm with wjl, I would never either speak OR write a double don't. I'd instinctively say "don't not"; if as you say I wanted to keep "don't stab at other" I'd recast as "The reason we don't stab at others is not that..."
i found it unintuitive but, considering it more, rather like it. the extra "do" helping verb lends emphasis/tone.