Heard on The Judges: _BIN done_

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 16 23:36:14 UTC 2010

Forty-ish, black male speaker from Saint Louis:

If he had gave me the tax check like he said was, he _would have BIN
done pay_ me back!"

I've read John's work on AAVE _BIN_ in strings like

"He _BIN pay_ me back!"

with, IIRC, the meaning,

"he paid me back a long time ago."

Now, I personally would never say anything like that and I have never
heard such a syntactic structure in the wild. However, the last time
that I mentioned this, the post was forwarded to John. I found this
very embarrassing, because of the possible implication that I was
challenging John's work.

I am doing *no* such thing! As everyone knows, Saint Louis is (was?) a
dialect island. In Saint Louis, we say (or *said*; I have to keep in
mind that anything that I claim to be a feature of any Saint Louis
(sub)dialect is valid only to 1962, the last year for which I can
claim residence in that once-great city):

"He _BIN done pay_ me back"

with exactly the same meaning as the John-type string. Of course, in
Saint Louis, people do/did also use

"He _BIN payin_ me back!"

with the meaning

"He started paying me back a long time ago."

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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