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Last night I was watching a part of Rush Hour, and I'm pretty sure that the black cop said twice 'You was lying'. Is this the same kind of usage as 'She don't know anything'. And is all this Ebonics or, as some like to call it, 'African American Vernacular English'?

Thanks,

Sextus
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SextusLast night I was watching a part of Rush Hour, and I'm pretty sure that the black cop said twice 'You was lying'. Is this the same kind of usage as 'She don't know anything'. And is all this Ebonics or, as some like to call it, 'African American Vernacular English'?

Thanks,

Sextus

I've never seriously studied Ebonics, but the types of speech patterns that you offer are very common among the lesser educated of the African American population. Similar divergence from standard English occur in the poorer white population of the mountain areas in the eastern part of the country.

I lived in a small town in western Turkey for a year and found that there were many linguistic differences that I had to adjust to, having learned "Istanbulu" Turkish before I went there.
Sextus
Last night I was watching a part of Rush Hour, and I'm pretty sure that the black cop said twice 'You was lying'. Is this the same kind of usage as 'She don't know anything'. And is all this Ebonics or, as some like to call it, 'African American Vernacular English'?

Thanks,

Sextus

I've never seriously studied Ebonics, but the types of speech patterns that you offer are very common among some groups of the African American population. It is sometimes parallel to the amount of education the individual has. Similar divergence from standard English occur in the poorer white population of the mountain areas in the eastern part of the country.

I lived in a small town in western Turkey for a year and found that there were many linguistic differences that I had to adjust to, having learned "Istanbulu" Turkish before I went there.
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I think in series/books(thrillers?) they often put "not very correct" speech patterns in the mouth of the characters they want to be viewed as "less educated", whether black, white, or any other skin colour...
In the case of the movie in question, I think they want the character to sound not less educated, but probably funnier.

Sextus
Might be too ! (but then bad grammar is not that funny Emotion: sad )

Edit: I mean: "I don't think making some characters use bad grammar is a nice/good way to make them look funny"
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During the late 18th/early 19th century, "you was" was acceptable among upper and upper-middle class native BrE speakers (you can find it in the conversations in Jane Austen's novels).

It's still common in some varieties of BrE (east London English, for instance).

I've always thought it would make a useful subjunctive form (cf. "he were").

MrP
That's interesting. But I suppose it's just a coincidence that in Ebonics, on the one hand, and in 18th/early 19th century and in some varities of BrE, on the other hand, they sometimes use this expression.

By the way, there appears to be no rule in Ebonics in this kind of cases, or so it seems to me. For in the present tense they say "She don't like me", "He don't know her name", i.e. they use the verbal form for I, you, etc. But in "You wasn't telling the truth", it's the other wand round (except that in this case 'were' isn't used for ' I ').

Sextus
Hi,

Yes, 'You was lying' is not distinctively 'Ebonics' English. However, I think a characteristic of this so-called Black English involves the use of the verb 'be'. For example, it is omitted entirely in some cases, eg He sleepin'. In other cases, the base form is used instead of the normal declension, eg She be cookin'.

Best wishes, Clive
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