Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 12:41:18 CST From: salikoko mufwene Subject: Re: Recent Black English In Message Fri, 18 Nov 1994 18:05:23 -0600, "Timothy C. Frazer" writes: > For example, one young African-American told me that when >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 contradiction in the following statement: I STAY WITH MY SISTER BUT I BE WITH MY MOM MOST OF THE TIME. In the second part, the speaker refers to repeated states. The following is also informative: NATE BE BABBLIN EVERY TIME I VISIT, EXCEPT FOR THAT PARTICULAR AFTERNOON, HE WAS SO SILENT... I have come to the conclusion that habituative BE constructions denote something like REPEATED STATE OR PROCESS, rather than a simple habit. There might be more to it; hopefully those who have more experience with AAVE and can articulate the meaning well for linguists will do it for the rest of us. Sali. Salikoko S. Mufwene University of Chicago Dept. of Linguistics 1010 East 59th Street Chicago, IL 60637 s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] 312-702-8531; fax: 312-702-9861