My question is inspired by the question of why "So do I". Usually I have no problem figuring out what to do for AAVE (African American Vernacular English), but in this case, I am confused, because AAVE allows more than one auxiliary, and has different movement rules.

For the case of one auxiliary,

  • She be working
  • be he working too?
  • He be working too?

I am not sure if the second or third is preferred.

  • She be working.
  • So be he.(?)
  • So he be. (?)

I think "So be he" is correct, not "So he be."

How about double auxiliaries?

  • He done been sleeping
  • So I done been.
  • So done I been.
  • So done been I

Which is considered correct? I think it's the third "So done been I", but I am not sure.

This pair I am pretty sure about:

  • He done been working
  • Done he been working?

For others, I have intuition

  • I'm a-gonna fly it
  • So am I a-gonna.

But this one confuses me:

  • He stay working
  • So stay I(?)
  • So I stay(?)
  • So do I stay(?)

Which is it?

The last one is

  • He done been staying working
  • So I done been staying.
  • So done I been staying.
  • So done been I staying.
  • So done been staying I.

Which one? I think it's the second, maybe the first. Not sure.

Any insights?

  • 1
    Should post a copy on linguisticsSE as well. – Kris Apr 22 '12 at 23:13
  • 3
    Yes, but only native speakers of AAVE should attempt to answer here. And there are local lects to consider -- AAVE is not all that standard across the country. – John Lawler Apr 22 '12 at 23:42

Although I am not a native AAVE speaker, I have many friends who are. Mostly from the Eastern and Central US. and I am quite sure I know them well enough to recognize their speech patterns. First, I believe they would nearly always add the "too" to the end of these sentences, so I will phrase them that way here. The accepted phrasings are as follows:

She be workin'. He be workin' too. and So be he.
("So he be." would be used to express surprise upon verifying that he was indeed working.)
He done been sleepin'. So I done been too.
He done been workin'. He done been workin'? (This is just turned right back as a question.)
I'm a gonna fly it. So I'm a gonna too.
He stay workin'. So I stay(s) too. (There is often an 's' added to 'stay' here)
He done been stayin' workin'. So I done been stayin' too.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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