Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 16:43:43 CST From: salikoko mufwene Subject: Re: Recent Black English In Message Mon, 21 Nov 1994 13:03:44 -0500, PPATRICK%GUVAX[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] writes: >Sure, it's entirely possible that "HazVbitual BE" in AAVE doesn't mean >Habitual anymore. But nobody's addressed the question that raises in >my mind: what DOES it mean for Frazer's and other students? I think >speculating on diachronic change or Labov's having gotten it >influentially all wrong is silly until someone gives an example and >says what it's supposed to mean (though both could possibly be true). Just one correction here: Did anybody mention Labov in the previous discussion? My statement was in the plural about "influential outsiders" and an invitation for those who have more experience with AAVE to articulate the distinction in meaning for the rest of us. Neither did I speak of having it "all wrong." The reply to Tim was that the student was partly correct; then I proceded to make a distinction between repeated processes/states versus basic habitual interpretation. > Also, what exactly does Habitual mean here? I buy Sali's >distinction in meaning between "He (ain't) lyin" and "He (don't) be >lyin", (though using negative examples needlessly is always asking for >trouble), but on my understanding they're both Habitual. My contrast was only between HE DON' TELL LIES (basic habitual) and HE DON' BE TELLIN LIES (repeated processes). You may say they are both habitual, but the second is a specific kind of habit focusing on the process part of the activity. As I said, the difference is perhaps more subtle than most of us outsiders to AAVE may be able to articulate well. In my interactions with African Americans, I perceive a semantic distinction between the two kinds of habitual reports. > (Also I hear >both things on the street in DC with what seem to me the usual >readings-- so far as an eavesdropper can tell!) > I usually explain Habitual to students as involving two >things: 1) repeated action (as in Sali's interpretation of the BE >construction, which I gather he doesn't think IS habitual), ... which I just corrected. I think you misunderstood me (some other readers may have too); I intended to clarify the distinction between the two kinds of habitual, which I do not think are interchangeable without changing meaning. 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