Extension(?) of tough-movement

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Apr 12 16:47:22 UTC 2008

Wilson said:

> Well, ["That's happy to hear"] could be merely a tip of the slung.

Thanks, Wilaon.  I was hoping you'd comment, since, after all, you _are_ Afram /
African-American / etc!  I believe you are older than my friend;  that isn't a
hint to you to reveal how old you are to those of us who don't know, but in any
case I'm not sure it matters.  In phonological matters at least, it's been found
that the African-American speech community is much more uniform than the white
American one, though I'll stop that comment there because of course it doesn't
mean to say that all African-Americans speak the same.  But my point is that I
wanted you to comment because you are an African-American of mature years, like
my friend, and I thought that if you recognised the construction, or didn't,
that judgement would have some chance of being valid for African-American
English in general.  Since you don't recognise the construction as being
frequent, I think it probably isn't.

Having said that, as I said in my original post, "That's happy to hear" does
sound to me like a natural extension of the semantic classes with which
tough-movement is classically said to be allowed, so I wouldn't have been
surprised if it *had* been previously attested.  I had never heard it before
myself, but I'll keep an ear out now.

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

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

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