An interesting way of expressing a failure

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 22 21:52:12 UTC 2009

Again, my apologies. The context made it clear that the reference to
the use of the product by the sales force in the fixed location of a
brick-&-mortar computer-products store and not to its use by traveling

Shit, man! Give a brother a break!

The above _shit, man_ is a deep pun. When I was at UC davis, a
classmate, in conversation with me, constantly used this phrase. I
found this to be *extremely* annoying. Among the black bourgeoisie,
the use of obscenities by a woman is totally declasse and quite
off-putting to the better class of men to have women getting out of
their place like that. [What can I tell you? I was born in the
'Thirties and the women in my family, being themsevles "of our
background," made certain that I understood the difference between
girls "of our background" and the others. You know, the kind who use
bad language - in every sense of the phrase - andd allow men to have
sex with them outside of marriage, thereby introducing a bastard into
the family or, worse, a "social disease."] Only a skank / skink would
do such a thing.

Finally, hearing her use "Shit, man!" just got to be too damned much!
I asked her why she was always using that phrase. She replied that she
had heard the phrase used *a lot* by a vast - to her - assortment of
black men. Therefore, she had decided to use it as much as possible
when speaking to me, so that I wouldn't be made uncomfortable upon
finding myself trapped into a conversation with a white woman.

As has often been noted, one should always endeavor to speak to the
"other" in his own language. It helps to lower tension.

Sigh! Had this poor woman the least knowledge of sociolinguistics, she
would have realized that few cultures permit women to use the same
variety of the language that men use.

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

On Fri, May 22, 2009 at 4:42 PM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â Re: An interesting way of expressing a failure
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I see your analysis, but couldn't "stay out" mean "stay out in the field /
> on the road"? Which is where a sales force works, after all.
> m a m
> On Fri, May 22, 2009 at 4:29 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
>> From letters to the editor of ZDNet:
>> "We _tried out_ [minicomputers] with our sales force and _not one of
>> them stayed out_."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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