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I recently added some friends to Facebook that live in a small town in Texas. The reason I point this out is that I believe it might be a regional thing.

Many people in that area omit the word "is" in sentences. Here is an example:

They sent an image and then included this in chat:

"Just ran across this. It a good pic of [whatever was in the picture]."

I expect to see "is" before "a good pic".

And again, another picture and description:

"This my youngest daughter and her husband."

I expect to see "is" after the word "this".

This is very common with this person, as they also sent this message:

"[Person's name] getting old enough to make [their] own decisions. I know what it like to be a child in middle of divorce."

I expect to see "is" after the person's name as well as after "what it" (or at least the contraction "it's").

Also, they linked to a meme image originally posted by a radio station in Phoenix, AZ that had the following text:

"It's not what's under the Christmas tree that matters, it's who around it."

I would expect to see another "is" (the first one being part of the contraction) after the word "who". Or, even another contraction (who's).

I supply all of these examples to demonstrate the omission. It seems very common to the area. I don't think this is the same situation as this question.

I have lived my entire life (over 40 years) without ever seeing this before. I grew up in the US South (GA - Atlanta area) and I have lived in Arkansas, Arizona, and San Francisco. I point that out to communicate my exposure to local language and usage.

Can anyone shed some light on this? Is this very common, or is it specific to a specific region?

  • 1
    I'm not certain it is reasonable in this case (and probably not in any case) to describe a regional variation in speech as being the result of "a lack of education". I find the absence of "of" after "a couple" in AmE to be a strong variant on standard English, but I don't regard all Americans lacking education as the cause. – Cargill Nov 30 '15 at 17:00
  • I also agree that it's unproductive to attribute speech patterns to a lack of education. – Michael Earls Nov 30 '15 at 17:04
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Copula deletion or zero copula is a regular feature of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). (It's also found in various English-based creoles, such as Gullah; but your examples are clearly not in any creole.)

As its name suggests, however, the vast majority of AAVE speakers are African-American; if your new Facebook friends are not black, then that explanation seems less likely. (And while Standard English has borrowed many things from AAVE, I don't think copula deletion is one of them.) I guess I'd be more inclined, in that case, to chalk this up to a persistent editing error, or to a unique form of online brevity (like how your first example has "Just ran across this" instead of "I just ran across this", except that dropping "I" is very common among a wide swath of Internet users, whereas copula deletion is not). But I have to admit that if your friends are not AAVE speakers, then neither of these other explanations seems very compelling.

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    Thank you for the answer. AAVE can most likely be ruled out as the census reports only a 7.3% "black alone" population in this town (and the friend is not a member of that group). Now I'm even more curious. I have never had a voice conversation with this person, so I don't know if this is how they speak. I also saw other posts from family members that had the same deletion. – Michael Earls Nov 30 '15 at 17:13
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I've had a similar experience when speaking to people in Louisiana. It was my understanding that this came from Cajun french, a type of "broken" french that was spoken in some areas of the state (sometimes exclusively). The Cajun French dialect also had idiosyncrasies like leaving off conjugations of "to be"(is, are, am), so it seems that when the locals' ancestors learned English they translated their French word-for-word into English and their children learned this from their parents.

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    Thank you for the answer. I'm not sure about the family history, but I can find out (they are a "long lost" relative of mine and a query into the history of the family might even be expected). – Michael Earls Nov 30 '15 at 17:16

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