Heard on The Judges: _on the street_ "helpful, assistive, available," etc.

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 30 22:53:10 UTC 2010

Mid-twenty-ish, black male speaker:

"The system don't be _on the street_ for |this one| [i.e. the speaker
himself = "me"], your honor."

The speaker is explaining why it is that he, though he's been out of
prison for several months, is nevertheless a deadbeat dad: Won't
nobody give a brother a break!

Use of a 3P form as a cover for a reference to oneself "has a long and
storied history," to coin a phrase.

Ev'y dollar _po' Sam_ make ... : spoken by the late-great, Texas
bluesman. Sam "Lightnin' " Hopkins. 1946

Can _a nigga_ borrow a french-fry? : spoken in the cafeteria by black
schoolchild. ca. 2008

But using a phrase like _this one_ instead of one's name or "a
brother, a cat, a stud, a Texan, a dude," et sim., is, IME, a stunning
new departure.

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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