Heard on The Judges: sE > to BE

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Apr 9 12:35:30 UTC 2008

On Wed, Apr 9, 2008 at 1:24 AM, Dennis Preston <preston at msu.edu> wrote:
>  This is a  very interesting point about nonstandards. In this case I
>  belive you suggest that the "ain't" version is more likely to refer
>  to situations, unexpected differences, etc... that to the perhaps
>  unmarked "incorrect" reading. This is most like the diph (or even
>  triph)thongal "shit" I referred to earlier, although in that case the
>  "nonstandard" (mock southern I think) version can only refer to
>  non-feces uses of the word (while the lax vowel version is multiply
>  ambiguous).
>  Sheee-it, that's a ugly dawg!
>  Don step in that dawg shit!
>  Shit, that's a ugly dawg!
>  *Don step in that dawg shee-it.

Fans of the recently departed HBO show "The Wire" will associate
"Sheee-it" with State Sen. Clay Davis, as depicted by Isiah Whitlock
Jr. See this promo for the final episode:


More on the genesis of Whitlock's "Sheee-it" here:


--Ben Zimmer

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

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