"Old Folks at Home"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 20 02:38:33 UTC 2010

That's an interesting thought, Paul. Judging from slave narratives
that I've read, this non-standard, apparently nonsensical use of _am_
prolly be for-real. That this might be rule-governed instead of merely
one of many consequences of no education ... Hmm. Might be worth
checking out.


On Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 12:25 PM, Paul Johnston <paul.johnston at wmich.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Paul Johnston <paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Old Folks at Home"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I'm curious about one line in this "Whitey's version" of early AAVE:
> the line "All de world AM sad and dreary".  It seems to me, as an
> admittedly non-native speaker, given the rest of the context, that
> this AM is equivalent to invariable BE (All the world is ALWAYS sad
> and dreary).  Is there any real-life attestation of "invariable AM"
> of this kind  in Early AAVE, that we can count on as being reasonably
> genuine? (and I know Southwestern British English-style "invariable
> AM" might have been brought to these shores--there's examples in the
> Somerset material in SED-- but there's no notion of habituality
> there, so I'm not talking about that.)  Or was it Stephen Foster's
> imagination?
> Paul Johnston
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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