Tense in BE

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 29 18:06:16 UTC 2007

When I was stationed in Berlin ca.1961, I used to hear some black GI's
say "knowin' this" instead of "fuckin' A" or "I'm hip." At the time, I
figured that this was local slang brought from home, wherever that

Today, on Judge Maria Lopez, a thirty-ish black woman from Texas
testified: "They said that they were doing X, but they were doing Y.
And I'm not _knowing this_." I'd have expected "And I don't know
this," needless to say, assuming an unconscious, intra-narrative shift
to the historical present.

Now, I wish that I had bothered to find out where those Berlin GI's
were from. Did this originate in Texas? Or did it spread to Texas over
the course of the past half-century from Louisiana? ;-)

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.
                                              -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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