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In the remainder of this section, eight structural, distributional, phonological, and semantic ways are illustrated in which NIs differ across AAVE and SWVE. Most important for present purposes will be the fact that the sentences actually have different meanings in the two language varieties.
(6) This is clearly not true of comparable SWVE sentences, however, which are acceptable, as in this example from Cormac McCarthy's novel Outer Dark, They wouldn't nobody like me; or, the following lyric from the country and western song "Rose of Memphis" by Rodney Crowell, Man they can't nobody touch her when the rose is on a roll.
On the other hand, as is reported in Salmon ("Negative Auxiliaries") this sentence is acceptable to speakers of SWVE. This constitutes a serious difference in syntactic structure, and dramatically changes the nature of what the respective sentences can be used to achieve and the kinds of speech acts they can be used to perform.
Thus, an NI in SWVE such as Didn't anybody throw a football like Raymond must be rendered with concord in AAVE, as in this example taken from August Wilson's play Radio Golf (1997), Didn't nobody throw a football like Raymond.
According to Salmon ("Negative Auxiliaries"), however, NIs in SWVE allow a substantially wider range of referential nouns without requiring the presence of the strong quantifier as long as the referential status of the noun in question can be construed as "hearer-new." For example, Salmon provides sentences in SWVE such as Couldn't the guy I was with be bothered to pay for anything and numerous others to show that the prohibition against definite subjects assumed for AAVE does not hold for SWVE.
This is not required in SWVE, in which the primary stress can be located elsewhere in the sentence, depending on the information structural needs of the situation.
Essentially, if a variety contains NIs, it should also contain sentences such as Nothing don't come to a sleeper but a dream, meaning "Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream." This is not true of all SWVE varieties.
This sentence is perfectly acceptable in SWVE, though.
As a native speaker of SWVE with training in linguistic semantics, I cannot imagine a situation in which the inversion sentence would hold but the non-inverted sentence would not, or vice versa.
Based on the differences mentioned above, it is clear that NIs in AAVE and in SWVE are not the same construction.
As we have seen thus far, there is a strong surface similarity between the NI forms in AAVE and SWVE. The forms are not identical, however, and ultimately are used to convey different meanings.
This is not the case in the SWVE, which allows exceptions and so can perform a wider range of speech acts.
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- swung the lead
- swung them around
- swung them to
- swung them with
- swung to
- swung us around
- swung us to
- swung us with
- swung with
- swung you around
- swung you to
- swung you with