In this paper, I describe a relatively new construction in colloquial use by many English speakers: a discourse-initial not-fragment that draws attention to a factual event and conveys some attitude towards it, typically that it is embarrassing, surprising, ironic, ridiculous, or simply bad. A prototypical example of this construction, which I call “spotlight not,” is an utterance like Not me going to Starbucks for the second time today, which is taken to indicate that the speaker is indeed going to Starbucks for the second time that day, and that they find this fact embarrassing or surprising, ironic, etc. Informed by a pilot survey and interviews with speakers who use spotlight not, I discuss the demographics and meaning of this construction, its surface structure and syntactic properties, and some ideas about why it means what it means.
Pereira, Guilherme M. C. 2023. Not me getting with the times: A new kind of not-fragment in English. Yale Working Papers in Grammatical Diversity 5 (1), 1–22.