The commonest answer I get after telling someone 'Thank you' is 'Mention not.'

If I answer something like this, many would turn this sentence down

That place is so exciting, I want to go ~ Go not. There could be a snake.

But then if I answer this in a traditional way, there's no problem!

Thank you. ~ Mention not. You can ask for such favor any time.

Note: 'Go not' is just one example. I mean all such verb to be used with not. For instance, talk not, walk not, like not, study not, sleep not instead of don't talk, don't like, don't study... and so on.

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    Have you a source for mention not, or could it be that you misheard someone say don't mention it? The phrase has become very common, and I hear many people who seem to swallow the don't part - it comes out close to dmention ath, which could very easily be heard as (d)mention(n)ot – oerkelens Jun 20 '14 at 7:16
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    "Mention not" would be considered an error in British English and, I'm fairly sure, American English. Searching I found some hints that it is an idiom in Indian English and an exception to the general rules. – Nigel Harper Jun 20 '14 at 7:53
  • @oerkelens there's no source to this. It's a common way to reply 'Thank you' here. Uhmmm I think it's again Indian dialect. However, here it is: careerlauncher.com/elt – Maulik V Jun 20 '14 at 8:36
  • @MaulikV Note that the use at your link is implicitly criticized: If your English vocabulary limited to “how are you?” “thank you, mention not!” then it’s time for a reality check. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 20 '14 at 9:08
  • I think StoneyB is right, it is shown as an example of poor English. I hadn't come across this one in Indian English yet, but I assume it is indeed a mash-up of don't mention it, as I described. I don't think it deserves less respect than the American "I could care less" when they mean the opposite, though :) – oerkelens Jun 20 '14 at 11:07

Go not is archaic. It's ungrammatical in Modern English, but people are familiar with this construction as an archaism and will understand anyway. To put it another way, it's grammatical, but the grammar it's part of is that of an older form of English.

Here's a simplified timeline:

  • In Middle English (1150-1500 AD), the post-verbal negator not developed, at first appearing with and then replacing the older pre-verbal negator ne. (This is an example of the Jespersen Cycle.)
  • In Early Modern English (1500-1700 AD), the modern version of do-support gradually developed, appearing more and more frequently with negative declaratives, with not following do rather than the main verb.
  • In Modern English (1700 AD to present), do-support became obligatory in negative declaratives with no other auxiliary verbs, probably roughly sometime in the 1800s, effectively restricting verbal negation to auxiliary verbs (Do not walk rather than Walk not).

Afterwards, the narrow distribution of the reduced form n't allowed it to be reanalyzed as an inflectional affix, which is particularly noticeable in inverted sentences. The affix -n't inverts along with the auxiliary, but the independent word not does not, so Doesn't he walk corresponds to the uncontracted form Does he not walk, not to *Does not he walk—although to this day Heavy NP Shifts result in a similar structure from time to time.

*Mention not is ungrammatical for another reason as well. Mention is transitive, so in the older grammar it should instead be Mention it not, corresponding to the modern Don't mention it.

Of course, if Mention not is really that common in Indian English, then there's nothing wrong with using it. But when I searched, I was unable to find any examples in Corpus of Global Web-Based English (GloWbE); I found only one result listed under Indian English, and that example was a false positive.

  • So JFK Ask not what your country... is ungrammatical? No. That's too strong. It's a stylistic choice. Maybe it's based on an older or archaic form but it's hardly ungrammatical. – Alan Carmack May 19 '16 at 0:17
  • It's ungrammatical...to put it another way, it's grammatical... – Alan Carmack May 19 '16 at 8:22

The construction of verb not is used as a poetic or litereary form or sometimes for emphasis. It is not in widespread use.

A recent author who used the form regularly is Douglas Adams, particularly in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Quotes such as "I speak not of future events" are scattered through the series. There is also the variant "A mere abacus! Mention it not.".

You do see the construction used with a number of verbs, I have seen "Go not there" as a warning of danger. However, I have never come across the other examples that you suggest; Walk not, sleep not, etc.

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    Note, however, that even Adams' character says Mention it not. Mention is a transitive verb and requires an object. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 20 '14 at 9:10

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