zero plurals?

Matthew Gordon gordonmj at MISSOURI.EDU
Tue Oct 28 14:43:39 UTC 2008

Maybe he was using these as adjectives (cf. the bold and the beautiful)?
Granted, "Serbian" would be more clearly adjectival, but...

On 10/28/08 9:33 AM, "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:

> from the NYT, 27 October 2008, "Democrats in Steel Country See Skin
> Color, and Beyond It" by Michael Powell, p. 1, about retired
> steelworker Nick Piroli and his opinion of Barack Obama:
> "I'm no racist, but I'm not crazy about him either," Mr. Piroli said,
> "I don't know, maybe 'cause he's black."
> Mr. Piroli, 77, winces at himself.  "We was raised and worked with the
> black, the Serb," he said.  "It was a regular league of nations.  And
> the economy now, it's terrible."
> "I've got to vote for him," he said finally.
> .....
> it's the "with the black, the Serb".  this *could* be read as having a
> definite singular used for generic reference ("The Frenchman is a
> lover of wine", understood as referring to Frenchmen in general).  but
> "raised and worked with the black, the Serb" (with this
> interpretation) strikes me as awfully high style, discordant with the
> non-standard verb form "was" in "we was".  but maybe i'm wrong about
> the status of generic definite singulars in working-class speech in
> Aliquippa, Pa.
> or they could be zero plurals.
> arnold
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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