U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 06-11-2010, 11:18 AM
 
2 posts, read 3,201 times
Reputation: 10

Advertisements

hey,

so I'm a writer writing about two characters from the south. I have family from the south, have been to the south multiple times, etc. I have so much respect for the south that I eventually want to move down there (from the NE). Please don't think I'm using stereotypes to draw out negative characters, but...

The characters I'm creating are very, very dumb/uneducated, and I'm wondering if someone who actually lives in the south can answer a question regarding accent/dialect...

Remember, these characters are the dumbest of the dumb, poorest of the poor, etc...

would an uneducated, poor southerner in any state use the word "done," as in: "I done fell in the mud!" If so, what state would most likely produce such a person?

Please believe me when I say that I have nothing but respect for southerners. In fact, the story is a sort of satirical piece about hollywood's use of southern accents (in Hollywood, it seems, southern accent=dumb).

Also, please believe me when I say that I don't think all/most southerners are dumb. The smartest person I've ever met was from TX; the dumbest person I've ever met was from CT.

Thanks in advance for any/all answers...
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 06-11-2010, 11:33 AM
 
Location: Underneath the Pecan Tree
15,989 posts, read 29,740,556 times
Reputation: 7233
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab1472 View Post
hey,

so I'm a writer writing about two characters from the south. I have family from the south, have been to the south multiple times, etc. I have so much respect for the south that I eventually want to move down there (from the NE). Please don't think I'm using stereotypes to draw out negative characters, but...

The characters I'm creating are very, very dumb/uneducated, and I'm wondering if someone who actually lives in the south can answer a question regarding accent/dialect...

Remember, these characters are the dumbest of the dumb, poorest of the poor, etc...

would an uneducated, poor southerner in any state use the word "done," as in: "I done fell in the mud!" If so, what state would most likely produce such a person?

Please believe me when I say that I have nothing but respect for southerners. In fact, the story is a sort of satirical piece about hollywood's use of southern accents (in Hollywood, it seems, southern accent=dumb).

Also, please believe me when I say that I don't think all/most southerners are dumb. The smartest person I've ever met was from TX; the dumbest person I've ever met was from CT.

Thanks in advance for any/all answers...
I've heard that phrase used in Texas.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-11-2010, 11:37 AM
 
2 posts, read 3,201 times
Reputation: 10
thanks a lot...I have family in Texas and have actually been writing the accents as a slightly exaggerated form of "Texan".

Also, the story takes place in Texas, so I honestly couldn't have received a better answer...Thanks again!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-11-2010, 02:41 PM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
4,726 posts, read 9,986,765 times
Reputation: 2584
I spent years in Texas and can only recall one or two persons using that verb construction. However, I've probably encountered a few more examples than I'm able to recall. It was unusual to hear, which is probably the main reason I recall some actual instances of hearing it. Markedly uneducated and impoverished: the most recent example I recall was a very pathetic young guy who had a very hard scrabble upbringing, had been in and out of prison, was fairly unemployable and pretty much dependent on the charity of organizations and persons who took pity on him. My guess is that he had an overall (Full Scale) IQ no higher than the low 80s, with a probable Verbal IQ no higher than 75. Thus, my experience in this regard would be consistent with the characters the OP is writing about, but again this linguistic construction is very, very rare IME.

I just remembered that another example I can recall from my childhood and teen years was a ranch hand who worked for my grandparents. Significantly, this fellow was actually reared in West Virginia and had only come to Texas as an adult. Again, he fit the socioeconomic, educational and intellectual profile of the case I cited above, as well as the OP's fictional characters.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-11-2010, 04:01 PM
eek
 
Location: Queens, NY
3,576 posts, read 6,439,953 times
Reputation: 1419
ppl in the south don't really speak like that anymore...what time period is this book supposed to take place in?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-11-2010, 08:13 PM
 
Location: USA
2,757 posts, read 6,422,278 times
Reputation: 1820
If someone said "I done fell in the mud" they would get stared at for sure down in the south. Bad grammar is not tolerated as a rule. I do it for fun only-I know better and so does most everyone down here.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-12-2010, 02:47 AM
 
3,645 posts, read 8,625,217 times
Reputation: 1786
You can probably hear that all over the South among some uneducated people. I'm not saying it's common, but it's not confined to a cetain state or city.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-12-2010, 04:53 AM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
4,726 posts, read 9,986,765 times
Reputation: 2584
The thing is, for the very few people who use the done+main verb past perfect tense construction, this is a regular grammatical form, not bad grammar but an obsolete subcultural construction (AFAIK it was never part of standard English at any time in history). It is strictly a class-related artifact that one finds surviving in a few pockets. It's also rather analogous to the use of the so-called invariant Be in idiomatic African-American English, e.g., "In the Spring, the trees be naked or they be green?" (a wonderfully phrased question that was addressed to me once by a 9th grade classmate in Louisiana). If we are speaking, however, of true Texas grammatical usages, it would be more typical to find people "fixing" to do something, i.e. getting ready to do. That of course is a colloquialism rather than bad English per se. As to the done+main verb form, the last time I heard this was in Austin, TX around 2003 and the speaker was about 27 years of age. It was the only instance I can recall of hearing the construction during my adult life in Texas. As a child/teenager, I recall hearing my grandparents' ranch hand in north Texas use it regularly, but as I pointed out previously he was actually from West Virginia and had a very impoverished, classically Appalachian background.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-12-2010, 08:09 AM
 
Location: USA
2,757 posts, read 6,422,278 times
Reputation: 1820
I never see nor hear any of these people that use such grammar. If they are out there, they must work in a wrecking yard. Not everyone has perfect grammar; however, phrases like "he done been" are pretty rare except from a 5 year old boy.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-12-2010, 08:35 AM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
4,726 posts, read 9,986,765 times
Reputation: 2584
That's the whole point: in the present day and recent past we are talking about a very small socially deprived minority of people. I've heard the construction in question but really it is rare as hen's teeth.

By contrast, the invariant Be amongst speakers of traditional African-American dialect remains fairly common and also seems more related to archaic English grammatical use. For example, in the Book of Common Prayer, you will find that the formula for the minister declaring the banns of matrimony (announcement of a pending wedding) includes the phrasing "if there be any..." and although modernised in the Book of Common Prayer used in this country, in the Church of England the 1662 BCP, still in official use, contains the phrase, "and though we be unworthy..." in the rite for Holy Communion. By contrast, I'm not aware that the grammatical use of "done"+main verb to express a completed action in the past (including the immediate past) was ever a part of standard English. Nevertheless, like the invariant Be, it follows a grammatical logic and isn't simply some arbitrary "bad grammar", though it may be incorrect grammar in standard American English. It's also worth noting in this context that the auxilary use of the verb, to do, has faded somewhat, whereas in England it is usually included in constructions in which it is dropped in American English. For example, if asked in England, "Will you be going into the office early tomorrow?", it would be perfectly normal to reply, "I may do." In American use, of course, you would never append "do" to the response. Thus, the use of "done"+main verb for the past perfect, while not standard grammar, does have some related precedent in standard British English.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:14 PM.

2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top