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For those who are speakers of AAVE or those who are relatively learned in this area, could someone explain to me the context in which one would use "steady" as an aspectual marker, and its difference with "keep on/continue" (beside, of course, certain obvious impossible constructions such as "to steady" compared to "to continue"). I think that I may have an understanding but not fully.

Example (in AAVE):

I see a man over there steady working.

which might be in standard English

I see a man over there, continuing to work.

I see a man over there who keeps on working.

P.S.: By the way, I am an African-American who is not a personal speaker of AAVE, though I live with parents who are and live amongst peers who do speak it. Thus, I do generally understand it and I have been recently studying it.

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    I think you need to give some examples. – Hot Licks Feb 21 at 1:36
  • Sorry, but there is absolutely nothing that identifies that sentence as being AAVE. It could be regional, too. How can you live with parents who speak AAVE and peers who speak and not speak it? Sounds crazy to me. – Lambie Feb 21 at 13:49
  • @Lambie: steady working is presumably what identifies that sentence as being AAVE. It's not something I (and most native English speakers) would say. And it's discussed in books on AAVE, e.g. People be on them jobs for thirty years just steady working. – Peter Shor Feb 21 at 13:58
  • @PeterShor That is the claim, yes. And I am saying it could be southern, Appalachian, working class, northeast, or western rural speech and god knows what else. Nothing makes it inherently AAVE. Also, the "translation" in grey is not necessarily right. In my head I hear: "He been workin' steady". The native speaker thing is "de trop" in my opinion. – Lambie Feb 21 at 14:08
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    If you made it up off the top of your head, how can we possibly know?? That said: I think in your sentence it means: working uninterruptedly or working steadily. And not continue to work or keep on working. – Lambie Feb 21 at 15:57
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I'm no expert on AAVE, but I believe there is a general tendency in AAVE to change the form VERB ADVERB to ADJECTIVE VERB. Thus (picking an example out of thin air), "eating quickly" might morph into "quick eating".

This same transformation is seen in "normal" English as well, of course, but the frequency and context of the transformation is probably greater in AAVE, and more of the transformations tend to become idiomatic.

I would take your original line to be equivalent to:

I see a man over there working steadily.

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