I just really like this sentence from the Baltimore Orioles' Nolan Reimold, who is recovering slowly from a herniated disk in his neck. "I can do pretty much whatever minus not being stupid." I find that a great sentence that could be used in a lot of situations, e.g. retirement …
No big linguistic point. Just three nice little dialectal variants in a row — that use of "whatever"; "minus" in place of "except for", and the inclusion of "not" in such a context. I think they've all been discussed in posts at one time or another, but this three-in-a-row is a gem, plus [oh, there's a 'plus'; I'm infected] I love the sentiment.
Let's see, I'm supposed to be mildly scholarly, so I should at least try to look up past posts to link to.
On 'whatever' (vs 'anything'), here. (by the way, I couldn't find that by searching in Language Log's search box on "whatever" — that got hundreds of irrelevant hits, maybe everything where the word 'whatever' occurred anywhere in a post. I found it by Googling on [ "Language Log" "whatever"]. Google seemed to understand relevance somehow.
On 'minus' as a subordinating conjunction (or maybe as a preposition in the class with "except"), here — no, I couldn't find any. There's a lot about 'plus' as a conjunction in informal style in Huddleston and Pullum's Cambridge English Grammar , but I don't see anything anywhere about minus in this kind of use. Does anyone know of any discussion of it?
On 'except for not X' vs 'except for X' (and similar alternations after 'miss', etc), — hmm, maybe I don't know how to search LLog well enough, because I couldn't readily find anything about that there. But when I googled on "except for not", I found lots of perfectly standard ones (like “It was great, except for not being part of "their" plan.”– that 'not' is essential, and omitting it is impossible without changing the meaning), and also a few with this possibly "extra" 'not", like this:
I'm *everywhere* – except for not really *here*. (here)
Hmm, that example suggests a path of development:
(i) afterthought exception: I'm everywhere. Except I'm not really here.
(ii) Normal exception phrase: I'm everywhere except (for) here.
(iii) a kind of blend — also syntactically — between (i) and (ii) — I'm *everywhere* – except for not really *here*.
Arnold Zwicky might know about the actual development - I'm just speculating. Or Larry Horn, negation specialist extraordinaire.
OK, enough of that — well, trying to be scholarly about it IS interesting, especially realizing that I couldn't find anything about that use of "minus" and now wondering if it's new, and whether it has arisen from the widespread use of "plus". (I long ago noticed that my baseball brother uses "Plus" sentence-initially far more frequently than "And". I think.) And realizing that the "except not" stuff is interesting.
But still what I like best is just that sentence itself! I may add it to my signature file.