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Not a native English speaker. I noticed for a long time now some speakers use a second sentence consisting of a single word, "not", as a way to entirely negate the former sentence and generally in a humorous way. For example: "I like your shirt. Not." Is this correct English or just something people understand even though it is not grammatically correct? I am asking this because in my native language, French, there is no way to negate this easily. I could translate "or not" (by "ou pas") but not just "not". Any details about this separate "not", historical or linguistic will be appreciated.

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  • I've always regarded this as a term from "Valley Speak", a California youth subculture that arose in the 80s.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 24 at 21:19
  • The usual response these days is "the 1990s called. They want their 'Not!' back". Feb 24 at 22:46
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    This came into popular use after it was used in a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch called "Wayne's world". Before that people would have understood it, but that's when the joke really took off.
    – JohnFx
    Feb 24 at 23:09
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It is an idiomatic nonstandard usage especially in informal, humorous contexts:

Not:

​(humorous, informal) used to emphasize the opposite of a statement.

Well, that sounds like a fun evening—not!

(oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com)

It usage dates back to the beginning of the 20th century but was made popular a few decades ago:

Not:

As an interjection to negate what was said before or reveal it as sarcasm, it is attested by 1900, popularized 1989 by "Wayne's World" sketches on "Saturday Night Live" TV show.

(Etymonline)

From: American Speech Vol. 68, No. 2 (Summer, 1993), pp. 213 Published by: Duke University Press.

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(jstor.org)

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  • Thanks but I am not sure what your "yes" is an answer to because I offered two options. Are you saying this is grammatically correct English then, although informal?
    – Winston
    Feb 24 at 20:29
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    It is an idiomatic nonstandard usage of not.
    – user 66974
    Feb 24 at 20:34
  • Okay thank you for clarifying.
    – Winston
    Feb 24 at 20:36
  • The Japanese language has a similar construct that is often translated as: “- is what I’d like to say”. Feb 26 at 3:42

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