Grammar Girl's "needs done" survey

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 7 18:47:46 UTC 2011

All I know is, coming from Brooklyn, watching too much TV, getting an
Ivy League education, and living most of my adult life in Europe left
me with at least three distinct ways of speaking, depending on my
audience and not including other alterations made for rhetorical

I certainly don't know if anyone else can understand my situation.


On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 2:18 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Grammar Girl's "needs done" survey
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 1:45 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
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>> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster: Â  Â  Â  "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>> Subject: Â  Â  Â Re: Grammar Girl's "needs done" survey
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> At 9/7/2011 01:16 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>>On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 12:11 PM, Ben Zimmer
>>><bgzimmer at> wrote:
>>> > with folksy dropped g
>>>You mean "with the standard dropped g of Black English, Southern
>>>English, Southwestern English, Western English, etc.," of course.
>>>When you make a point of describing Obama's speech as "folksy," here,
>>>you make it appear that you think that his use of "dropped g" is
>>>unnatural or artificial, that he's merely faking it in order to appear
>>>down with the common people or some such thing.
>>>OTOH, if you had written "with gutless dropped g," implying an effort
>>>on Obama's part not to appear to be too erudite, hence too uppity or
>>>too biggity, lest he annoy any Republicans who may have condescended
>>>to concern themselves with what he had to say, well, naturally, I'd
>>>gladly cosign that.
>> How did he pronounce " rebuildin' " when he was at Harvard?
>> Joel
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> Judging by the manner in which my own speech changes - white roommates
> from MIT and Harvard: "We can always tell when you're talking to one
> of your [black] friends on the telephone, because the way that you
> talk completely changes!" - my WAG is that, surrounded by white people
> and under standard temperature and pressure, he probably monitored the
> living shit out of his speech and used "building." But it's a real
> motherfucker, trying to maintain that shit at all times and a nigger
> can't help but occasionally be slipping up. Know what I'm saying?
> BTW, you've no doubt noticed that Obama talks a lot less white than
> Colin Powell does. Of course, Powell doesn't have the advantage of an
> Ivy League background, probably has to go all the way back to old
> master in order to find any purely-European ancestry and is most
> definitely, by his own admission an Affirmative-Action baby. Hence, he
> probably feels much greater preaaure not to come off sounding like
> some random, ignorant-assed nigger in front of the white folk.
> Of course, I'm wasting my time here, explaining it to you, because, it
> goes without saying, you already have a full understanding of what it
> means to be a nigger in America, of course. Your question was clearly
> meant only as a ploy to enable a nigger to go into this shit for the
> benefit of white folk who don't possess your insight into the black
> condition and, hence, lack any kind of understanding of this shit at
> all.
> For that, I wants to thank you.
> --
> -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 -

The American Dialect Society -

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