I got this quote from Ali movie said by Bundini:

God don't care about you. Don't care about me. In all of everything, we don't mean nothing. He don't owe us. We be. That's the onliest thing he did. But that's good. That's why we free. But free ain't easy. Free is real and real is a motherfucker. It eats raw meat. It walk in its own shoes. It don't ever waiver. Yeah

I don't really understand what it means That's why we free. I was thinking that it probably should be we are free, but subtitles seems to be correct on all other dialogs so I believe it's correct here as well.

  • I shall never forget, partly because of the sheer horror of the situation and partly because I'm interested in language, a survivor of hurricane Katrina saying on the radio: "My wife - she gone." I should imagine that the answer to your question is that that is how some Americans (?) speak. Being interested in language, I would say a more interesting question is: given there doesn't appear to be a verb in either sentence, when someone says "That's why we free." or "My wife - she gone.", what's actually going on under the bonnet (the hood). Dec 18 '16 at 9:14
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    Possible duplicate of African American Vernacular English Dec 18 '16 at 15:23

Ali is speaking in the English dialect AAVE (African-American Vernacular English, sometimes called 'Ebonics'), in which the verb 'to be' is dropped in the present tense. You can indeed understand it correctly as 'we are free'.

  • I think this is a typo considering the fact that other be verbs were not dropped elsewhere. Also, you should note that there are always multiple typos in movie scripts. I see so many typos in the Ali script that I can't even count them.
    – user140086
    Dec 18 '16 at 10:12
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    I don't see any reason for assuming it is a typo. The other instances of present "be" are "that's" (twice), "ain't", and "Free is real and real is a motherfucker". I can quite believe that "that's" is in free variation with "that", the negative is required for "ain't", and the third is a rhetorical sentence which might lack the impact with the repeated "is". v
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 18 '16 at 10:41
  • @ColinFine You can find the script and read it. You will know why I assumed it is a typo. You can hear the part at 1:48:54 and I clearly hear 're. youtube.com/watch?v=rBJJVvaJ0gc
    – user140086
    Dec 18 '16 at 18:33

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