"being have"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Sep 6 15:18:53 UTC 2001

A year or so ago someone set off a discussion here by posting an
overheard conversation in which a mommy offered to whap the bejesus out
of her kid if he didn't start "being have" ("behaving himself", the
word "behave" being analyzed as if it were the verb "be" and an
adjective "have").  I've had no success in finding this discussion in
the Archives.

I recently heard a record made in the mid 1920s by the vocalist Hociel
Thomas, called either "Go On, I Told You" or "What I Told You".  The
song celebrates the esprit of a cake-walking baby and contains the
following couplet:
    She came in on the Charleston wave,
    What I told you, she just won't have.
This is probably available on CD, since Thomas is backed by Louis
Armstrong.  I have an Armstrong discography somewhere, which, if I
could find it, would give the correct title and the date of recording.
But in any event, the thought that the command "behave!" = "be have!"
is at least 70 years old.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

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