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In the highly racist and despicable, although humorous, song "Alabama n-word", apparently from the 1960s in the Southern USA, at 1:30 into the song, the lyrics go like this:

I'm glad this tune came along; we done wore out one n-word song.

(All instances of "n-word" in this question is actually the offensive word itself.)

Is this meant to refer to them having previously only sung/played the same one song about n-words, thus happy that they now came up with a new tune for a new song?

Or does it mean (as I always assumed until today) that they refer to having created so many songs about n-word that they are happy that this new tune came along, them finally gaining some inspiration after the "artistic block"?

Basically, is the "one" used as part of an expression/filler word, or does it refer to literally one (song)?

PS: I can't tell who made/sung the song; I believe it's miss-attributed to "Johnny Rebel".

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    It means that they had played to exhaustion the only song they had. Jan 22 at 17:02
  • Does this answer your question? Auxiliary movement in AAVE Jan 22 at 19:09
  • I’m voting to close this question because of wasting time on a "highly racist and despicable" work. Jan 22 at 19:27
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    Note that it parses as: NP(we) VP(V(done wore out) NP(one n-word song)). which means 'done wore out one' is definitely not a single constituent.
    – Mitch
    Jan 22 at 19:35
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Insertion of the word "done" before the main verb of a simple past is a common part of some southern dialects. The meaning isn't changed - it's simply an intensifier.

So "We done wore out one song" means the same as "we wore out one song", except more emphatically.

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    The OED says that this adverbial use of done (technically, an intensifier use) in the sense of "Thoroughly, very, exceedingly." seems to have originated in 16th-century Scotland, but they aren't sure just how it came about, having this for its etymology: “Origin uncertain. Perhaps a partial blend of two originally distinct words: (i) (in α. forms) an adverbial use of done adj.1, and (ii) (in β. forms) a specific use of down adv., although if so it is likely there has been some mutual influence between the two form types.” Maybe crosstalk from non-rhotic darn, too, I bet.
    – tchrist
    Jan 22 at 19:27
  • @tchrist Thanks, I didn't know it was an intensifier. I've edited to reflect that. Jan 22 at 21:20

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