Heard on The Judges: sE > to BE

Tue Apr 8 16:17:18 UTC 2008

        I'm not sure if you're counting uses that are really quotations,
such as "Say it ain't so, Joe."  But "That ain't right" should qualify.
I think that in general I hear "ain't" less often than in years past,
though that could be a function of my living in suburban Maryland rather
than rural Kentucky.

        I do hear "You're the man" (though not "You are the man").  The
"apples" version I'm used to is "How do you like them apples?"

        I don't think brand names, such as "Dunkin' Donuts," should

        Outlook's spell-check tried to get me to change "ain't" to
"isn't" when I first started to send this message.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Dennis Preston
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 11:02 AM
Subject: Re: Heard on The Judges: sE > to BE

Almost certainly the case, and recall that I continue to be interested
in people providing me with even further examples of obligatory


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

Are there any obligatory "ain'ts"? Others?


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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
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>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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