Occurrences of non-polarity anymore (NPAM) or so-called “positive anymore” with the approximate meaning of ‘nowadays’ have long been collected by North American dialectologists. The name of the construction is misleading, however, since mainstream anymore, as a garden-variety negative polarity item, is acceptable (like ever or anyone) in a range of grammatically “positive” but downward entailing environments. After touching on the semantic characterization of mainstream and non-polarity anymore and the “stigma enigma” presented by the variable social diagnosis of the construction by those familiar and unfamiliar with it, we present the results a study of the grammatical and geographical distribution of non-polarity anymore. This study draws on 600 responses to sentences (1)–(5) included in two Amazon Mechanical Turk surveys conducted by the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project in 2019.
Football is more popular than baseball anymore.
It’s expensive to fly first-class anymore.
It’s great to fly first-class anymore.
Anymore he watches what he eats.
Anymore he’s spending too much time on Facebook.
Based on these responses, we can expand the geographical range of non-polarity anymore, with favorable responses attested in states beyond those explicitly noted by the Dictionary of American Regional English, while also providing evidence both for a Pennsylvania core area and for DARE’s “least freq. New England” annotation. Respondents’ preference for (2) over (3) supports the observation by Labov and others that non-polarity anymore typically favors negative affect. Also in line with previous claims (e.g. Hindle & Sag 1975), fronting anymore as in (4) and (5) lowers median acceptability ratings. The analysis of respondents’ judgments with age as a variable indicates that the acceptability of NPAM is on the decline in the U.S., echoing the parallel apparent change in progress Chambers (2007) reports for his survey of speakers from Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe. We conclude with some remarks on the complementary nature of dialectological methodologies utilizing surveys vs. corpora drawn from Twitter and similar resources.
Horn, Laurence R. 2021. Anymore once more: geographical and syntactic distribution. Yale Working Papers in Grammatical Diversity 3 (4), 1-25.