strong enough = 'able'

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 3 03:11:27 UTC 2011

On Sat, Jul 2, 2011 at 6:40 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
> "'Cause if you strong enough to believe in _ghos'_, you strong enough to
> believe what _ghos'_ say!"

This attempt at eye-phonetics make it appear that the speaker is using
the singular, "ghost," in the singular in an environment in which a
whiter and/or more-educated speaker would use the plural, "ghosts."

This is by no means the case. The speaker has /gosts/ underlyingly,
just any other native-speaker of English has. If eye-dialect has to be
used - and here it clearly doesn't have to be, since the question
isn't about pronunciation - _ghos's_ is the way to go. This
more-or-less better represents [gows:] with a long final [s:] < /sts/.
Cf. The Bee-Gees' use of word-final [s:] in their song, Massachusetts,
wherein [s:] is from /ts/, in whose I was surprised to hear it. OTOH,
/st, ts, sts/ --> [s:] is regular in BE in all registers, unless, as
your humble correspondent is wont to do, the speaker is attempting to
speak to a white person in his own language.

FWIW, I read _strong_ as being used here ironically to mean
"(intellectually) weak" or "stupid."

Otherwise, there's no particular reason to laugh. YMMV.

Besides, _able_ is usually used to mean "able," as in the fixed phrase,

"Everybody ain't able."


"Not everybody has the money / the intelligence / the intestinal
fortitude / the luck / the muscle / the strength of character or other
ability such that he can do a deed like that."

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 -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list