Date: Tue, 13 Dec 1994 10:51:10 CST


Subject: Re: Get Over It

In Message Mon, 12 Dec 1994 18:17:01 LCL, Lisa Gray lgray[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] writes:

I'm a reporter for the Washington City Paper, and am working on a

story about how a phrase can temporarily take on an added meaning.

Specifically, I'm writing about Marion Barry's advice to white voters

upset that he'd won the Democratic mayoral primary: "Get over it."

Local politicians and the Washington media buzzed with the phrase for

a few weeks, turning it to whatever subject was at hand. Nervous about

voting for a Republican? Get over it. Do you believe Congress will

allow the District both a commuter tax and an increased federal

payment? Get over it. And so on.

Chances are that this phrase has carried with it some of the

interpretations it receives in African-American English. In Clarence Major's

JUBA TO JIVE (1994), one of the meanings of GET OVER (SOMETHING) is

'overcome difficulty; to survive hardship.' E.g., "I can get over it without

working too hard." In Geneva Smitherman's BLACK TALK (1994), GIT OVAH is

explained as follows:

1) A Traditional Black Church term referring to making it over to the

spiritual side of life, having struggled and overcome sin. "My soul look

back and wonder how I got ovah." 2) By extension, to overcome racism,

oppression, or any obstacle in the way to your goal.

Professor Smitherman may be reached at the following office number:


I hope this helps you,

Salikoko S. Mufwene

University of Chicago

Dept. of Linguistics

1010 East 59th Street

Chicago, IL 60637


312-702-8531; fax: 312-702-9861