This article examines the variable judgments that African American English speakers in Wise, North Carolina, give simple preverbal done sentences modified by definite past-time denoting adverbials, as in John done baked a cake yesterday. A single speaker might judge this sentence as perfectly grammatical one day, only to judge the same or a similar sentence as fully ungrammatical the next. The article develops a synchronic analysis of this variability based on semantic type shifting. Additionally, that account is used to reconcile other researchers' reports of different judgments coming from different regions and to help explain previously published data regarding the construction's frequency of use. Further, the article proposes that the same syntactic and semantic mechanisms be used to account for a separate, although related, case of variation within the done construction. At issue here is whether adverbially modified done constructions such as Mary done lived in Chapel Hill for three years have perfect of persistent situation readings. Different researchers have answered this question differently, with a number reporting tentative and unclear judgments similar to the Wise data.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| February 01 2010
J. Michael Terry; VARIATION IN THE INTERPRETATION AND USE OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN ENGLISH PREVERBAL DONE CONSTRUCTION. American Speech 1 February 2010; 85 (1): 3–32. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-2010-001
Download citation file: