William Salmon william.salmon at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 18 16:47:13 UTC 2008

> Until reading Will's response, I would have supposed that Wilson's
> construction IS class-specific among Southern whites.  Is it possible
> that social "classes" in the South are themselves poorly defined

This would certainly be true if you defined class based on something
other than financial situation.


> (where the upper crust are genteel paupers and the Snopses run the banks)?
> --Charlie, blue-collar Southern white (formerly?)
> _____________________________________________________________
> ---- Original message ----
>> Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2008 16:10:30 -0400
>> From: William Salmon <william.salmon at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject: Re: AUX+NEG-Fronting
>>> For a very long time, I was under tthe impression that sentences like:
>>> "She's so mean and evil that _can't anybody stay with her_,"
>> My grandmother would say this. She is 90ish, Caucasian, from rural
>> South Texas, and middle class.
>> Among younger generations I would expect to hear this in emphatic or
>> humorous contexts. I'm sure I've probably used it myself.
>> Will
>>> once spoken by my mother, was standard English. When  I was in my
>>> mid-thirties, Haj Ross happened to mention, in the course of a
>>> "Baby Syntax" (= "Synntax 101" in M.I.T. Linguistics-Dept. jargon)
>>> lecture, that this kind of thing was peculiar to Black English.
>>> This made me wonder whether it was also a feature of General
>>> Southern English.
>>> However, I was never able to find any white Southerners, though I
>>> quizzed speakers from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and
>>> North Carolina. But, no one seemed to be able to say, with any
>>> certainty. Thanks to the "Blue-Collar Comedians" series on Comedy
>>> Central, I know for certain that blue-collar Southern whites, at
>>> least, *do* use this bit of syntactic structure.
>>> So, I'm idly wondering, is this a class thing among Southern
>>> whites? (It isn't, among blacks. I use it and I don't come from the
>>> country or from the streets. The only class distinction is "can't
>>> *anybody*" as opposed to "can't *nobody*": "Can't any cat get into
>>> a coop.") Or was my sample population simply too small - perhaps
>>> ten people - and too narrow - all grad students in linguistics?
>>> -Wilson
>>> --
>>> 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.
>>> -----
>>> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

~Will Salmon

The American Dialect Society -

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