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".

  • 2
    It means that they had played to exhaustion the only song they had. Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 17:02
  • Does this answer your question? Auxiliary movement in AAVE Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 19:09
  • I’m voting to close this question because of wasting time on a "highly racist and despicable" work. Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 19:27
  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 19:27
  • @tchrist Thanks, I didn't know it was an intensifier. I've edited to reflect that. Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 21:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.