The prejudice store

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 21 16:23:37 UTC 2008

I agree. Oddly enough, among blacks of my generation, "smart-ass(ed)
is more likely to mean "intelligent" rather than "smart-alecky" and
"bad-ass(ed)" is pretty much fixed as an adjective. We'd agree with
Cheech & Chong that "Acapulco Gold is bad-ass(ed) weed," but we'd say,
"[Name] is a bad motherfucker" and not a "bad ass." In Saint Louis, we
used a phrase that was basically word-salad, syntactically: ["Name] is
a most motherfucker," but it had the meaning that [Name] was clearly
an impressive person, WRT whatever the context was.


On Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 10:48 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky
<zwicky at> wrote:
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>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>  Subject:      Re: The prejudice store
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  On Apr 20, 2008, at 5:29 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>  > I'm the next thing to absolutely certain that my friend meant "a store
>  > whose staff is prejudiced" and not "a store where prejudice is one of
>  > the products available for purchase."
>  that was my understanding as well.
>  >
>  > In my childhood and youth, BE-speakers clearly said, e.g. "-assed" in
>  > locutions like _big-assed  black-assed dumb-assed  shit(ty)-assed_,
>  > etc. Nowadays, I hear and see written big-ass, etc. However, if I were
>  > doing the writing, I would write _big-ass'  black-ass'_, etc., since I
>  > still "hear" the deleted -ed. But that's just me. (Do white speakers
>  > use that locution?)
>  >
>  > _Prejudice'  bias'_ are pretty much the "standard" BE pronunciations
>  > of _prejudiced  biased_, words that are more likely to be heard than
>  > read. IMO, the examples below are illustrations of the consequences of
>  > the same phenomenon of heard but not read among other speakers. But,
>  > again, that's just me.
>  there are several different things going on here.  there are people
>  like you who lack the final t/d variably or generally in the
>  pronunciation of certain words but who seem to have the segments
>  mentally; they'll be inclined to spell the -ed or to use an apostrophe
>  to indicate its absence in pronunciation.  there are others who seem
>  to have lexicalized the t/d-less versions of certain words; they won't
>  give any indication of these segments in their spellings.  i took the
>  spellings "prejudice" and "bias" to be symptoms of this sort of
>  lexicalization.
>  to make things more complicated still, different people have different
>  systems.
>  as for X-ass and X-assed, things are really complicated.  "smart-ass"
>  and "bad-ass" have clearly developed noun uses for many people,
>  probably through the potential of things like "smart-ass kid" for
>  interpretation either as adjective + noun or noun + noun.  eventually
>  we get "he's a real smart-ass/bad-ass".  probably different words have
>  different statuses for different people.
>  arnold
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