West Coast American English Evolving?

Clark   Thursday, October 23, 2003, 05:19 GMT
In the last couple of days, I have been noticing some things about my area's use of the English grammar. Mainly in the use of the verb "be."

For example, "I would be taking that if..." I feel like this is unique to West Coast English, but I could be wrong.

I have a feeling that this phenomena(sp) is due to the African-American English usage. I was in class one time, and a black girl said to another person, "don't I be working?" To my ears, I knew exactly what she meant, but grammatically, I thought, "where in the hell did you come up with that!?"

Anyways, I was just wondering if all English-speakers use sentences like the one I mentioned in the second paragraph.
A.S.C.M.   Thursday, October 23, 2003, 05:56 GMT
I thought "I would be" is perfectly grammatical as the English equivalent of the French conditional tense ("je serais"). Of course, "don't I be working" is completely ungrammatical.

In my opinion, it would be more logical for the effects of African-American English usage to be felt on the East Coast because most Blacks are concentrated there. On the other hand, I anticipate a lot of Spanish creeping into West Coast English.
Clarl   Thursday, October 23, 2003, 06:01 GMT
Yes, Spanish pronunciation has already affected West Cosat pronunication. I would imagine that if a person saw the town name "El Cajon" and he was not from Southern California, he would not pronounce the "j" like an "h" (the way Spanish does).

As for the example I gave, it is not the best one as I heard two and forgot both of them. One was one that I said, and another was one that my math prof. said. I shall have to listen for another example when I am talking.

But maybe I could pose a question to English-speakers that are familiar with the West Coast accent; do you think that there is any grammatical difference between your English and my English? I am mainly concerned about grammatical difference among verbs.
Clark   Thursday, October 23, 2003, 06:02 GMT
Duh! My name is with a "k" at the end!
Richard   Saturday, October 25, 2003, 19:13 GMT
Clarl would rhyme with carl.
zi   Sunday, October 26, 2003, 20:10 GMT
To Clark

<I was in class one time, and a black girl said to another person, "don't I be working?" To my ears, I knew exactly what she meant, but grammatically, I thought>

what did that girl mean by : "don't I be working" ? did she mean "I won't be working" ? Sorry for the silly question ! it might be obvious for the English speakers but for us not really...

By the way Clark do Americans use : "aren't I ?" at all ? it's a tag question used mostly by British, I believe.
mjd   Sunday, October 26, 2003, 21:06 GMT
I'd say most Americans use "aren't I." "Ain't I" sounds uneducated to most.
Clark   Sunday, October 26, 2003, 22:11 GMT
"Don't I be working" means "I work, don't I."

I agree with Mjd; "aren't I" sounds more correct. "Ain't I" is something one would hear in the Southern Midwest and in the South.

Zi, what is your native language?
zi   Monday, October 27, 2003, 00:47 GMT
My first language is Farsi.
Californian   Monday, October 27, 2003, 01:51 GMT
Although "Aren't I" is incorrect because one does not say "I are." It should be "Am I not?"
Clark   Monday, October 27, 2003, 01:54 GMT
I guess in the grammatical sense, "aren't I" is in fact wrong. However, it has become a tag ending for sentences. For example, "I am tall, aren't I?" It has just become part of the standard language for most English-speakers in most English-speaking countries.
A.S.C.M.   Monday, October 27, 2003, 02:39 GMT
I would say "am I not". For example, "I'm a person, am I not?"
Clark   Monday, October 27, 2003, 02:43 GMT
I think it depends on context and who one is speaking with. My first thought when I saw what you wrote was, "am I not" would be something one would say in a conversation with a professor or in a conversation with a group of intellectuals or something. "Aren't I" is something that is more informal, everyday speech that is meant to keep the conversation goig or to quicken the pace of what is being said.
Jim   Monday, October 27, 2003, 03:29 GMT
I'd have though "Don't I be working?" would mean the same thing as "Am I not working?"/"Ain't I working?"/"Aren't I working?"/"I'm working, aren't I?" but Clark says it means "I work, don't I?" This is a little amazing. "Don't I be working?" is in the present continuous but "I work, don't I?" is in the simple present, how do they mean the same thing? That's dialect for y'z all.
Clark   Monday, October 27, 2003, 04:13 GMT
Yeah, it is kind of weird. I am still a bit awe-struck(sp) at this sentence. The whole story about how I heard this is thus;

I was in my 11th grade math class, and this girl got put into my group (we were working in groups that particular day). For some reason, she must have thought that she did not belong, or something like that, so she looked at someone in another group and said, "don't I be working."

From this context, and from my experience in listening to some black people speak, I knew exactly what she meant just as if she would have used standard American/West Coast English.

What I have noticed among the black community in my neck of the woods is that there is a lot more "be + present participle" usage than in standard American English. Also, I have noticed that a majority of speakers of this accent have stopped gonjugating the verb "to be," and simply use "be" instead of "am/are/is."

For example, "I be at school in the mornings." This means, "I am at school in the mornings."

And one must forgive me for generalising here about the black community. I do not intend to give the meaning that every single black person in America speaks like this. I mean to say that there is a sizeable amount of black people, generally the youth, who speak like this.

In the very first post I wrote, "In the last couple of days, I have been noticing some things about my area's use of the English grammar. Mainly in the use of the verb 'be.' "

Well, I have just thought of a perfect example of what I am talking about. "I'll be taking" is an example of what I have said and have heard many people in my area say. What is meant is that there will be an ongoing action in the future. So, to all of you non-West Coast American English-speakers out there, how would you describe an ongoing event that will take place in the future? "I will be taking" or "I will take?" To me, the first example just seems like it has been borrowed from the black community who speak like I explained previously. What does anyone think?