Expressions that mean duh

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 27 20:38:35 UTC 2007

As quiet as it''s kept, the most common form of this question among
black St. Louisans, at least when I lived there in the '40's, '50's,
and early '60's, was, "Will a nigger steal?" Of course, this usage was
ironic, the underlying assumption being that white people always think
the worst of black people, so why fight it? Just roll with the punches
and make a sick joke of it.


On 3/26/07, Alice Faber <faber at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Alice Faber <faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU>
> Organization: Haskins Laboratories
> Subject:      Re: Expressions that mean duh
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Patti Kurtz wrote:
> > Not exactly a dialect question, but a language one.  I'm trying to come
> > up with some different expressions that we use to mean "well, duh"-- in
> > response to a question whose answer is obvious-- for example "Does the
> > sun rise in the east?"  (these are for a novel I'm working on)
> >
> > Is there a name for those?  And can you folks cite some examples?
> I don't know if there's a name for them. But:
> "Is the Pope Catholic?"
> "Does a bear shit in the woods?"
> "Is the sky blue?"
> --
> ==============================================================================
> Alice Faber                                      faber at
> Haskins Laboratories                           tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
> New Haven, CT 06511 USA                             fax (203) 865-8963
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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