Good day all. I would like to know what exactly Cecile McLorin Salvant has in mind when saying "no time" in the song called "Nobody"? Does it mean "never"?

"Nobody, I will never do nothing for nobody, no time!" (this song on Youtube).


closed as primarily opinion-based by Robusto, Chenmunka, Julie Carter, FumbleFingers, tchrist Aug 25 '15 at 23:14

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  • Yes. The full expression is a prepositional phrase, 'at no time'.: at no time never At no time did I ever say or suggest or even hint that she should lie about what I was doing. {[Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms ](idioms.thefreedictionary.com/at+no+time)} Here, double negatives don't seem to worry the writer/s. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 19 '15 at 11:26
  • "Not at any time" (in the future). – Hot Licks Aug 19 '15 at 11:46

"No time" in this case is an informal double negative, such as is common in many informal American dialects, including many African-American dialects.

In learning formal English, you will learn that a single negative negates the sentence, and a double negative negates the negation, so that:

"I know nothing about birthing babies"

means you are ignorant, while

"There is nothing I don't know about birthing babies"

means you are competent. However, in informal speech, additional negatives can also be used to reinforce a negative meaning, so that:

"I don't know nothing about birthing no babies"

means you are completely ignorant of the birthing process.

The negatives in the passage you quote serve this purpose: reinforcing the overall negative aspect of the sentiment. If you were to rephrase it in a more formal American register, it might read like this:

I will not, at any time, do anything for anybody.

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