Pants on the Ground

Bill Palmer w_a_palmer at BELLSOUTH.NET
Thu Jan 28 15:00:14 UTC 2010

Off the topic, but (sort of) in line with the BE discussion.

In my several years of teaching at one of our fine HBCU's, I'd say 95% or
more of my students (and most of the black faculty) pronounced "ask" as
though it were "ax".  Did not matter where the speech patterns were
formed...North, South, Jamaica, wherever.

Bill Palmer

----- Original Message -----
From: "Wilson Gray" <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 11:29 PM
Subject: Re: Pants on the Ground

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> header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Pants on the Ground
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> It's just the usual half-assed bullshit, Neal. Nothing there is true
> of Black English as a whole, with the possible single exception that
> _your_ is almost always pronounced [yo] by all speakers, at least when
> not delivering the State of The Union address.
> Why it is that white people are unable to hear the pronunciation of
> the "l" in "cool," etc. is a mystery to me. I've seen "cool"
> represented by "coo' " in literature written by whites since I was in
> high school in the '50's. When I was in the Army and Greg asked me to
> teach him to pronounce "cool" as we Negroes (in those days) did, when
> I said "cool", he repeated it as "coo," despite the fact that he was
> listening to a native speaker in real life in real time.
> OTOH, why do whites choose to pronounce "-ool" as "-oowul"? You have
> no idea how messed-up that sounds! ;-)
> In a beer commercial of the '80's, this pronunciation was gently
> mocked. A nouveau-riche black athlete has his boyz from the old 'hood
> over to his new Bel-Air crib. When he invites them to see "the
> poo-wul," filled with cans of the advertised brand of beer, his
> friends recoil in horror, echoing, "The 'poo-wul'?!!!"
> I wonder why it is that the BE "long T," as I call it, never makes the
> various lists of reputed "features" of BE? I would have thought that,
> like much else, the long T would be familiar from the old TV show, In
> Living Color. Remember "Wanda" and her catchphrase, _I'm [rEt:@]
> (ready to) go!_? I've heard it used by any number of people: my
> father, a roommate, a broad selection of other family and friends,
> random utter strangers on the street. When I think of my father,
> "[pUt:] (Put it) on the table" pops into my mind. But, as In Living
> Color's parody showed, the long T is "non-standard," or, as the fact
> that I don't use it, though my father, who died seven years ago at 97,
> did, old-fashioned or too "country." The former roommate who uses it
> came to L.A. straight out of the tobacco [t at b&@k@] fields of North
> Carolina. I, OTOH, spent almost the entirety of my
> language-developmental years in urban, semi-Northern Saint Louis,
> being embarrassed by my parents' Southern accents. (My father had
> "wif, bofe," etc., but my mother, now 97, doesn't, having always used
> the standard thorn.)
> [BTW, even as I type, I'm watching a TV show on what's now known to
> the greater world as "South-Central Los Angeles." The speech of
> *every* black speaker is fully rhotic, with a single exception.
> _Nigger_ always be pronounced only as "nigga." A major change, that.
> When I moved to L.A. from Saint Louis in the '50's, it used to make my
> flesh crawl to hear black AngeleƱos say r-ful "nigger," just like
> white people. Fortunately, the mirror-image spelling-pronunciation,
> "reggin," was hip, then, so that I didn't have to hear "nigger" even
> from the bruz 'n' cuz, all the time. Unfortunately, the r-ful version
> resurfaced, after "reggin" became stale. OTOH, according to the UD,
> "reggin" is back, in white slang terms like _reggin weed_, meaning
> something like "stale, low-THC, or otherwise worthless marijuana."]
> -Wilson
> On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 10:26 AM, nwhitman at
> <nwhitman at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail
>> header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "nwhitman at" <nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET>
>> Subject:      Pants on the Ground
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> New blog post, on several features of AAVE present in "Pants on the
>> Ground" -- and one that's not, although a lot of people seem to think it
>> is.
>> Neal Whitman
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> --
> -Wilson
> ---
> 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 -


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