Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 12:56:34 -0600
From: Natalie Maynor maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]RA.MSSTATE.EDU
Subject: Re: Recent Black English
she used uninflected BE it did NOT refer to a habitual action. Anyone
else have this happen?
Your student is partly right. In AAVE, HE DON' TELL LIES and HE DON' BE
TELLIN LIES do not mean the same thing. The first is the basic habitual;
the second denotes repeated processes. Note also the absence of
I tend to use the word "habitual," perhaps erroneously, to mean "repeated
processes." Although "habit" is implied in "he don' tell lies" (or "he
tell lies"), I think of that as more like a continuous state -- more like
"he's not a liar" or "he's a liar" -- sort of a continuous habit, if I'm
not stretching things too much with that description.
--Natalie (maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ra.msstate.edu)