Learn English – Nor without neither

negationneither-noror-nor

I am correcting a translation for a friend. He wanted to say:

"Don't look for treasure nor earthly pleasure."

This sounds wrong to me. I would say:

"Look not for treasure nor earthly pleasure."

The following would be correct: "Don't look for treasure or earthly pleasure,"
but he wants to use "nor" for emphasis.
I have lived abroad for 35 years and so my grammar has slipped. All I have left to go on is how things sound. Which of these is right?

Best Answer

Both of the following seem fine:

Look not for treasure or earthly pleasure.

Look neither for treasure nor earthly pleasure.

The following seems odd:

Look not for treasure nor earthly pleasure.

Consider a plain example:

If I have no pen and no pencil:

I don't have a pen or a pencil.

or

I have neither a pen nor a pencil.

But the negation is perfectly clear in the first example of the two. In fact, that's what we usually say it, right?

I often see sentences such as the following:

I don't have a pen nor a pencil.

I consider this to be maybe a form of hypercorrection. Just a hunch, but people seem to be very apprehensive about the use of "or" recently, perhaps as a result of the growing influence of legalese on regular language.