Questions tagged [african-american-vernacular-english]

African American Vernacular English or Black American English.

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What is the origin of the phrase "to not give two f***s"? [closed]

I was curious about the origin of the phrase "to give two fucks". When did the English language first feature counting to a number to express a level of vulgarity? And why two specifically? ...
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1 vote
1 answer
99 views

Distribution of "yelp" for "yes"

I've recently come across two people online who consistently write "yelp" meaning "yes" or "yep" in chat. Due to anonymity and privacy, I don't know much about them. From ...
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1 vote
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176 views

"Ain't no thang but a chicken wang."

I understand that phrase to mean, "it's not difficult," but what is the metaphor with chicken wings? Where does this phrase come from?
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

He had his ears bored

I’m reading The Underground Railroad by Coleson Whitehead. Early in the first chapter he writes: “Her last husband had his ears bored for stealing honey. The wounds gave up pus until he wasted away.” ...
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1 vote
0 answers
191 views

Why do Christians in American deep south say "whenever" when they mean "when"?

As a midwestern American (Iowa), I want to understand the history, reason, and mechanics of why southern Americans say "whenever" when the word "when" would suffice. For instance: ...
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1 vote
0 answers
51 views

Why do southern evangelical Christians in American churches say "how that" instead of how?

Why do evangelical Christians in American churches say "how that" instead of how? Ex. 1: Let me tell you a story about Billy Beaumont and how that, for our sakes, he joined the war to fight ...
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9 votes
2 answers
860 views

What's the origin of this expression recorded in Louisiana, 1867?

From Freedmen's Bureau records as excerpted in Sterling's brilliant We Are Your Sisters: Emmeline Ellaby jumped out of the cotton and called them damned bitches and said that everyone of them damned ...
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0 votes
0 answers
26 views

What does "girls of the world" refer to in this context?

In the 1986 rap song "Girls Ain't Nothing but Trouble" by "DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince", the lyrics go like this: Listen, homeboys, don't mean to bust your bubble But ...
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2 votes
0 answers
61 views

AAVE deletion of alveolar stops before the ending -ing

They riding for us /ˈɹaɪjɪn/ I'd like to know whether whether it's represented somehow in writing. Secondly, what phonological process enable it?
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100 views

Phonological process triggering <I'on't> for "I don't"

Mostly in AAVE, and mainly in the sentence "I'on't know", e.g. here, here, here, here, and even y'on't. However, I am not aware of which process triggered such a pronunciation. EDIT: A related ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What does "up in this grill" mean?

In an episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", Will Smith says: What we gotta do, is get up in this grill and show 'em that we've got the power! I've checked Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary, but ...
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2 votes
2 answers
171 views

Does the “a” of “I'ma” extend to other pronouns?

Consider “I'ma do this” (as in “I am going to do this”). How does the a in I'ma extend in usage? Does anyone have any usage where it's used with other personal pronouns? I heard in a song recently ...
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0 votes
1 answer
126 views

Is there a "correct" definition of woke as an adjective?

Merriam Webster and (Lexico) effectively define woke as social awareness. Bussel.com claims The Urban Dictionary has a similar definition, but over on The Urban Dictionary itself there are multiple ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
160 views

When to use "I" + is

Once I saw this sentence in the movie that: I is in charge of the classroom ! Why after "I" did they use is ? Is that a metaphor ? I want to explain my students but could not.
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0 votes
1 answer
95 views

In African American dialect, is it "I like" or "I likes"?

Following the rules of African American dialect, one rule is to drop the 's' on a verb when using third person singular, i.e. "she like, he like" - my question is - for the first person singular, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
452 views

AAVE grammar: Difference between "continue to/keep on" vs "steady"

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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
61 views

Meaning of "But no Source never made me not buy an album when they say it was wack"

I cannot get the real meaning of this AAVE sentence from rapper Kon Artis, a song lyric transcribed at Genius: But no Source never made me not buy an album when they say it was wack Source is the ...
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  • 2,187
3 votes
1 answer
799 views

'Gwine': How accurate is the African-American dialect in early 20th c writing?

A recent question here about "fo' sho'" produced answers with a number of quotes of Southern US or AAE (African American English) varieties. To my ear, these quotes sounded awful and I question their ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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I thought 'bout seein' everything and then…

Oprah: I thought 'bout seein' everything and then... I saw a pregnant man. YouTube It sounds very much like Oprah Winifrey, the iconic show woman and world-famous TV host, is parodying African ...
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0 votes
2 answers
12k views

Is it correct to say "You be the best"? [closed]

This phrase is in constant use by many lately , just to appreciate a person in something. But I personally feel there's some problem in this - "You are the best" makes better sense. Is this even ...
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11 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is “What goes around comes around” African-American?

The famous aphorism, (and a Justin Timberlake's song) what goes around comes around, appears to have originated in the United States. It refers to a completed cycle, and normally carries a negative ...
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2 votes
0 answers
67 views

All I'm askin' / Is about the interesting preposition placement in the song "Respect"

The Aretha Franklin song "Respect" has the interesting lyric "All I'm askin' / Is for a little respect" [link] where in everyday English, I would expect "All I'm askin' for / Is a little respect". I'...
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0 votes
2 answers
4k views

"Best believe..." as a rhetorical device or device of storytelling

On imgur, there is a post with screenshots of an individual's row of Twitter posts. In them, he is telling a story making use of what I (as a non-native speaker of English). I was originally guessing ...
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3 votes
3 answers
2k views

"I leaked nothing to nobody." - SAE? AAVE? Deliberate double negative?

"I leaked nothing to nobody" (around 3:42 in the video) Is the sentence above from Susan Rice grammatically correct in standard American English (SAE)? Seems like it should be: I leaked nothing ...
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2 votes
3 answers
6k views

As a shortening of "bourgeois", is "bougie" or "bourgie" correct?

Bougie or bourgie is used as a shortened, informal version of bourgeois used in African American Vernacular English. For example: The car he drives is indicative of his [bougie | bourgie] lifestyle....
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3 votes
1 answer
3k views

Is the past participle becoming obsolete? (I have went)

I noticed someone saying "I have went" about a month ago and it jarred me. Then I heard it again, and again, so I started paying attention. I noticed that the first couple of people I heard say this ...
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7 votes
2 answers
14k views

"I had been done that" Is this correct?

I teach freshmen English in inner-city Baltimore, and I often get the following: Teacher : Did you complete the homework? Student : I had been done that! I have not been able to give a straight ...
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2 votes
0 answers
370 views

Exceptions to the rule that AAVE can omit "is" and "are" iff the corresponding form in standard English can be contracted?

According to the Wikipedia page for African-American Vernacular English: Only the forms is and are (of which the latter is anyway often replaced by is) can be omitted; am, was, and were are not ...
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3 votes
0 answers
607 views

If I believe that AAVE is a legitimate dialect of English, am I a linguistic prescriptivist or a descriptivist? [closed]

Or maybe there is a third categorization I should use, such as "linguistic inclusivist"? I believe that hypercorrections like "This is a secret between you and I" and "Whom is he?" are incorrect ...
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10 votes
7 answers
11k views

Where does "my ass" come from?

The usage of my ass to mean me is now relatively common. My impression is that it originated from AAVE and has since been included in various other dialects. The NGram below implies it became popular ...
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6 votes
8 answers
5k views

African American Vernacular English

I was going through some articles about "African American Vernacular English". Article 1. Article 2. These articles give some examples, but they do not clearly specify hard rules to be followed in ...
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6 votes
8 answers
2k views

"I'd-a lost"? What does this contraction stand for?

The first lines of George Thorogood's version of "One bourbon, one scotch, one beer": Wanna tell you a story about the houseman blues. I come home one Friday, had to tell the landlady I'd-a ...
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10 votes
2 answers
17k views

"Bust a cap" meaning and derivation

I've always believed that the phrase "bust a cap in yo ass" was AAVE for: To shoot an individual with a gun. Whilst trying to figure out what the cap actually meant, I ran into this alternate ...
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2 votes
2 answers
374 views

Meaning of "roll"

What's the meaning of rollin in this context? Ridin They see me rollin They hatin Patrolling they tryin to catch me ridin dirty Tryin to catch me ridin dirty Tryin to catch ...
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5 votes
1 answer
1k views

Auxiliary movement in AAVE

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 ...
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3 votes
4 answers
870 views

What's the negative of the nonstandard perfect: "He done eat his breakfast"

In movies I hear a lot of sentences like that in the title of the question spoken mainly by African Americans. As I understand it's the dialect version of the standard Present Perfect. I was wondering ...
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0 votes
2 answers
2k views

How did southern US blacks address whites post-emancipation and pre-civil rights?

You hear it in movies like "The Help" all the time, but I'm trying to look for words like "missuh" and not finding any. Anyone familiar with the early 20th century African American lingo? I'm only ...
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