23.2086, Qs: Use of ''Do'' in AAVE

linguist at linguistlist.org linguist at linguistlist.org
Mon Apr 30 17:21:34 UTC 2012

LINGUIST List: Vol-23-2086. Mon Apr 30 2012. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 23.2086, Qs: Use of ''Do'' in AAVE

Moderators: Anthony Aristar, Eastern Michigan U <aristar at linguistlist.org>
            Helen Aristar-Dry, Eastern Michigan U <hdry at linguistlist.org>

Reviews: Veronika Drake, U of Wisconsin-Madison
Monica Macaulay, U of Wisconsin-Madison
Rajiv Rao, U of Wisconsin-Madison
Joseph Salmons, U of Wisconsin-Madison
Anja Wanner, U of Wisconsin-Madison
       <reviews at linguistlist.org>

Homepage: http://linguistlist.org

The LINGUIST List is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the
discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in
the digital world. Donate to keep our services freely available!

Editor for this issue: Zac Smith <zac at linguistlist.org>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually
best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is
then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was
instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we
would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.

In addition to posting a summary, we'd like to remind people that it
is usually a good idea to personally thank those individuals who have
taken the trouble to respond to the query.

To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at

Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2012 13:21:31
From: Calvin Gidney [Calvin.gidney at tufts.edu]
Subject: Use of ''Do'' in AAVE

E-mail this message to a friend:
My research is on African-American English use and reading skills among a 
sample of 1st through 4th grade children in Indianapolis.  I was wondering if 
you could help me to understand something I observed in some of my 
participants' transcripts. I greatly appreciate it if you have the time to do so! 

I noticed that a number of the children used ''do'' in a manner distinct from 
SAE, and I was wondering if you thought these usages were typical of a 
variety of AAE, or were either developmental or idiosyncratic.
First, several children used ''do'' as an auxiliary in a nonstandard fashion.  
Here are examples:
1. Do you heard of this restaurant?
2. I just do sit in the house. (this was not emphatic, and was describing a 
habitual action)
3. I do is play my video games.  (this one might not really be an auxiliary)

Next, several children used ''do'' as a main verb in a nonstandard fashion.  
Here are examples:
4. She always do jokes.
5. We would do for dinner, we always have ice-cream and cake.
6. She wanted to do with her friends.  

I've also noticed in casual conversations and song lyrics that ''do'' can be 
used to mean something like the SAE ''treat.''  For example:
7. How come you do me like you do?
8. Should I do him like he did me?

And then there's Young Jeezy's lyrics:
9. You just do you, I'ma do me.
10. Wanna see how it's done?  Then watch me do me.    
I'm frankly not sure what ''do'' means in these lines, but it's clear there's a 
meaning beyond a potential sexual innuendo, and I think it means something 
like ''take care of'' in SAE.

So, I am looking for some literature on AAVE that might refer to this 
construction. Would any of you know of anyone who has written about this? 

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology

LINGUIST List: Vol-23-2086	

More information about the Linguist mailing list