[Ads-l] Miscellany: semantic shift

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 18 00:47:36 UTC 2016

Back when, during the '40's and '50's, there was a common BE catch-phrase,

1) "You ain't said *shit*."

Normally, this should - and, in fact does - mean something like

2) "You haven't said *anything* [of value/of consequence]!"

But, unexpectedly, (1) means, in fact, "I agree with you entirely," "You've
said a mouthful," "Good idea" et sim.

Not unexpectedly, GBooks has no relevant examples of the phrase from the
20th C., but there are examples from the 21st C.:

Da Flip Side: The Side That's Glorified and the Side That's Never
Jamie Lowe - 2004 - ‎Preview
"I'm going to handle that, but I don't have any heat with me, right now.
The guys who blasted Tim live in Pine Hall and it will be better for me, if
you let me hold [i.e. borrow] a couple of gats than me driving all the way
back to Greensboro to strap up."

"Nigga, _you ain't said shit_."

Forever a Hustler's Wife - Page 48
Nikki Turner - 2007 - ‎Preview
"I can make things happen for you," he said. "But you ain't playing for
marbles, anymore." Des looked down as Nasir. "You playing for keeps."

“_You ain't said shit_,” Nasir said, standing up and giving Des a pound.
"On the real, a nigga like me is through playing, period."

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list