Heard on The Judges

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Sun Mar 23 00:13:47 UTC 2008

From:    Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>

> Judge:

> "What were you-all doing?"

> Twelve-year-old black male speaker:

> "_We-all_ was playin' an' havin' fun."

> FWIW, this is the only time that I've had the impression that a
> speaker has said "we-all" or "they-all" and not been just joking. It's
> unfortunate that the speaker is only a child replying to an authority
> figure, since there are many ways to explain this away. E.g.,
> automatic response of "we-all" to judge's "you-all"; the speaker
> intended to say, "We were (all) ...," but, being in intimidating
> circumstances, slipped up; "an' so fo'th ('n' so own)," as we say in
> East Texas BE.

I don't use they-all, but i certainly do use we-all (though only after
i've been constantly hanging out with family and friends i grew up with
for several days). It's an exclusive we--i.e., to me, the 12yo's
response *must* mean that he wasn't hanging out with the judge.

For reference, i'm a white male speaker born in Southern Maryland 1970,
lived there until i left for college at 16.

David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

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

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