[Ads-l] "Can anyone suggest a name and description?"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 10 22:31:31 UTC 2015


"Well, I could tell you, but you wouldn't like it."

Amongst the colored of my youth, any question whatsoever could be - and
would - be jocularly answered in the manner given above.

The jocularity derived from the fact that a person, by asking almost *any*
question whatsoever, always inadvertently and inevitably opened himself up
to a jone so obvious that it all but joned itself:

Can anyone suggest a name and description?

Yes: "Yo' Mama" and "Ugly."


As a consequence, even a question like, "What is the square root of -1?"
could be answered with "Well, I could tell you, but you wouldn't like it"
and be found funny enough to draw a laugh from the bruz, because even that
question includes "yo' mama" in its set of possible answers. Indeed, even
in a situation in which "yo' mama" is, by no stretch of the imagination, a
possible answer, it works as a laugh-getter:

A."What is the VIN of your car?"
B."I could tell you, but you wouldn't like it."

Any colored person who heard that exchange would at least giggle, because
he'd be reminded of those occasions when B would have been relevant. The
sheer irrelevance of that reply would tickle my funny-bone.

"I could tell you, but, then, I'd have to kill you!" - which is also used
as an answer to whatever question - is probably a member of the same subset
of smart-assery:

A."What is the VIN of your car?"
B."I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

Discuss.
-- 
-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 - http://www.americandialect.org


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