Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 21

Hybrid View

  1. #1
    sunbride is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    9
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default T. Ray don't know nothing.

    Dear Teacher,

    'Does T. Ray know what you're doing?'
    'T. Ray don't know nothing.' These sentences are from the bestseller The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. The whole book is also a text for discussion in the present CPE exam.

    I don't understand why the writer uses 'don't' instead of 'doesn't' in the second sentence.
    It is very strange to me, while the dual negative structure is not, I have come across with it several times.
    But using 'don't' when refering to a person who is not present, I cannot explain. Would it be accepted in modern American English? Or does it have a special meaning, context, connotation? Thank you for help.

  2. #2
    TheParser is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,912
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,

    I have read that in the 19th century, many educated people here in the States and in the United Kingdom regularly used "don't" with the third person. Then school teachers kept beating into students' heads that the correct form should be "doesn't." So today, if a person says "He don't," that person is considered by many people to be (pardon the word) "ignorant" or "poorly educated."

    NOTES:

    1. Was that "bestseller" set in the 19th century?
    2. Does that "bestseller" describe a "poorly educated" person?
    3. From 1913 - 1921, our president was Woodrow Wilson. I have read that he regularly said in private things such as "He don't," but in public he was always careful to use "doesn't."


    James

  3. #3
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    9,465
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    The connotation is that the speaker doesn't know proper English.

    You might hear this type of construction in certain groups, but it is not acceptable for formal use.

  4. #4
    sunbride is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    9
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    Dear James,
    Thank you for help. The bestseller is set in the middle of the 20th century. It describes a 14 years old girl whose teacher finds her very talented, especially in literature. The author is from the Southern United States and the story takes place there, too.

    Dear ShootingDave,
    Thank you for your notes. Do you think 'don't' in the third person can be accepted at all? I mean as an 'informal' way.

  5. #5
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    9,465
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    Informally, among a peer group it is accepted. I don't talk that way, unless I am doing it for emphasis. "He don't know who he's messing with."

  6. #6
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is online now Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    17,091
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    You must expect that characters in fiction will speak in non-standard dialects.

    "He doesn't know anything" is standard. "He don't know nothing" is exactly what you would expect from a character who doesn't know proper grammar or who doesn't care about social conventions and using "good" English.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 04-Oct-2012 at 18:05.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. #7
    sunbride is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    9
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    To ShootingDave: your emphasis explanation seems to be the closest to what I feel from the situation in the novel. The speaker is not poorly educated and has no special dialect but someone who has to know proper grammar. In other conversations she speaks standard.

    To Barb_D: as far as I understand you imply that 'don't' with the 3rd person in some cases can be regard as a 'dialect.' I will remember that, thanks.

    I would be interested in your views about the following part of Chris Rea lyrics. The singer was born and lives in the UK:

    And on the bus there is a friend of mine
    We go way back to the scene of the crime
    We sit up front and share a cigarette
    And try to remember what we tried to forget

    He say "Do you remember?"
    He say "Do you recall?"
    I say yeah I remember, oh, I remember it all (Windy Town)

    How can you explain this "He say" instead of 'he says'? I really want to understand such grammar usage, so I am grateful for all your help.

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,912
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Sunbride:


    Many years ago, I was commenting on the "bad" English in popular music when a young person told me that I

    was all wet (wrong). He explained that the one-syllable "don't" is often used instead of the correct two-syllable

    "doesn't" because it fits better into the rhythm of the lyrics.


    James

  9. #9
    TheParser is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,912
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,


    It is I again!

    You stated that people always speak grammatically in your native language.

    In English, however, what is "grammatical" is changing. The people are changing it. It is a very democratic

    process.

    For example, probably 95% of people now say "It is me."

    Furthermore, sometimes there are social reasons for speaking "bad" English. For example, if a big, tough American football

    player said "It is I," some of his friends might think that he was "strange."

    Today we hear (from very well-educated people) things such as:

    Me and my friend went to Disneyland. (My friend and I ....)
    This secret is just between you and I. (between you and me)



    James

  10. #10
    sunbride is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    9
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: T. Ray don't know nothing.

    I understand. Hungarian natives do make "mistakes" but usually not grammatical ones. Our language is also changing - like any other living thing - but perhaps not so rapidly as English, because Hungarian is much more separated.
    As for your examples, they are - I suppose - more common among English learners than 'don't' instead of 'doesn't'.
    Thanks again.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. question about the word ( x- ray )
    By student22 in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 25-Sep-2012, 10:05
  2. [General] Ray
    By jimener in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 17-Feb-2012, 15:38
  3. [General] Ray
    By jimener in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 09-Feb-2012, 09:17
  4. the pedestrian - ray bradbury
    By beachboy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-Sep-2011, 17:35
  5. X-ray image
    By Unregistered Mssyly in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-Oct-2009, 13:52

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •