Monday, December 3, 2007

“I don’t believe in X”

Is this a snowclone? I can’t find it in the database or on the queue. It’s certainly a different use of ‘believe’ than “I don’t believe in unicorns”. In this special use of believe, the speaker does in fact believe X exists, but they disagree with it in some way.

Google results for “I don’t believe in”:

a) I Don't Believe In Failure.
b) I don't believe in the death penalty.
c) I Don’t Believe in Atheists.
d) I don't believe in spreading liberty.
e) I don't believe in war.
f) I don't believe in guilt.
g) I don't believe in Richard Dawkins.

X = deverbal nominal
X = noun
X = descriptive noun
X = VP
X = eventive nominal
X = emotion noun
X = Person noun


While X is almost always a noun, it can be a VP as in (d), and it’s often an eventive nominal as in (e) or a deverbal nominal as in (a).

2 comments:

Chris said...

I'll leave myself a comment: the vast majority of Google instances of this construction were of the 'I don't agree with X' kind, not the 'I don't believe X exists' kind.

Erin said...

I think there's a case for it.