[Ads-l] Miscellany: semantic shift

Clai Rice cxr1086 at LOUISIANA.EDU
Fri Nov 18 17:50:52 UTC 2016

Thanks for this, Wilson. I have wondered and been confused on this phrase 
for a long time. On the few times that I have heard it used in what was 
fairly clearly an affirmative context, I've thought it was still somehow 
affirming a negative, like "I agree with you but what you are saying is 
still shitty."

I've heard it in the more literal sense, starting something with "you ain't 
said shit about such and such..." like this recent Twitter example
How you aint said shit about Holtzclaw EVER until he's found guilty and THEN 
you jump in to shit on BW getting any semblance of justice?

Which is why the reversed sense threw me off.

-----Original Message-----
From: Wilson Gray [mailto:hwgray at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2016 6:48 PM
Subject: Miscellany: semantic shift

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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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