ain't support (P.S.)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri May 12 01:18:59 UTC 2006

At 9:11 PM -0400 5/11/06, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>I ain't even do shit
>>You ain't even do that shit
>>It ain't even do shit
>>Damn, I ain't even do nothing
>>We make good music together and we ain't even do a song yet
>Not a new trend, but a well-established trait of AAVE/Black English.
>I think it goes by "past tense 'ain't"" or some equally memorable
>label.   It'll be covered in Rickford's or other treatments of the
>variety, and it constitutes a fairly reliable diagnostic for AAVE
>vs. other non-standard dialects (in which "ain't" = 'hasn't' or
>'haven't' rather than 'didn't').  Wilson, any thoughts?
I should have mentioned that I wasn't intending to claim that AAVE
speakers use "ain't" *just* as the preterite, but rather that some
AAVE speakers employ it as a negative preterite as well as as a
negative perfect.  Thus it only serves as a diagnostic in one
direction; the use of "ain't" with the value of 'hasn't/haven't'
isn't indicative of any specific dialect.


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