Heard on The Judges: sE > to BE

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 8 15:29:29 UTC 2008

At 5:02 PM +0200 4/8/08, Dennis Preston wrote:
>Almost certainly the case, and recall that I continue to be
>interested in people providing me with even further examples of
>obligatory nonstandards.
>What do you think of (or "How bout") them (never "those") apples.
>You the ("da") man (never "You are the man").
>/Si:It/ for metaphoric uses, but never for feces. (/SIt/ is OK for both uses.)
>(/S/ = palatal sibilant)
>You can't go to "Dunking Donuts," even if you claim to never "drop your g's."
>Are there any obligatory "ain'ts"? Others?

It don't (*doesn't) mean a thing if it ain't (*hasn't) got that swing.
It don't (*doesn't) make no (*any) never mind.
Dance with the one that brung (*brought) you
If it ain't broke (*If it's not broken), don't fix it.
S/he got (*has) game.
If momma ain't (*isn't) happy, ain't nobody (*nobody is) happy.
It ain't (*isn't) me, babe.
Long time no see.  (* ???)
No can (*Cannot) do.
Say it ain't (??it's not) so.
That ain't (?That's not) gonna (*going to) cut it.
Badges?  We don't need no (*any) stinkin (?stinking) badges.
    [Sorry, Fred; I know it's a misquote.]
You pays (*pay) your money you takes (*take) your choice.
You ain't (??You're not) just whistling Dixie.
It ain't (??It's not) the meat, it's the motion.
That ain't (?*That's not) hay.
You done good.  (‚You did well.)
Yo mamma.  (‚Your mother.)


>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>>Subject:      Heard on The Judges: sE > to BE
>>Some may recall that I once claimed that, regardless of a speaker's
>>usual register, he tends to move it toward the working-class norm,
>>when using slang or slang-like expressions.
>>Middle-class, black, male speaker complaining about his cheating wife:
>>She was unbelievable, your honor! She _wadn_ cool at at all. She would
>>call me at work to find out when I was coming home, so that she would
>>know how much time she had to do her _thing [TaeIN]_!"
>>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>>  -Sam'l Clemens
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>Dennis R. Preston
>University Distinguished Professor
>Department of English
>Morrill Hall 15-C
>Michigan State University
>East Lansing, MI 48864 USA
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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