Some features of vernacular English

Dear All,
One of the things that I have been recently noticing in modern English is the vernacular usage of certain forms. This post briefly discusses some of these forms.

I would like to focus on seven vernacular forms which seem to be used often:
1) she don’t;
2) he ain’t;
3) I just said it;
4) they don’t know nothing;
5) givin’;
6) gonna/gon’;
7) I’m lovin’ it.

Before starting this discussion it is necessary to point out that for some English speakers these forms (or some of these forms) may seem completely incorrect and totally unacceptable; while for others they are quite correct and acceptable; while still for others these forms may seem to be correct, but of “lower” usage (i.e. inappropriate for using them in a book or an article).

From the point of view of the standard English grammar, the negative form of a verb in the 3rd pers. sing. requires the form “does not/ doesn’t” in the Present Simple (Present Indefinite) tense. However, the vernacular English admits the usage of the “don’t” form in this case. An excellent example is the recent song by Eric Paslay. The song is entitled “She don’t love you”.

The vernacular form “ain’t” can substitute one of the following standard (dictionary) English forms: am not, is not, are not; have not; or has not. Here is an example: He ain’t hungry ’cause he just finished his lunch.

The next vernacular form has to do with the usage of tenses. It has been partially discussed in the post entitled “British English – American English verbs (grammar)“. This form has to do with the tendency of using the Past Simple (the Past Indefinite) tense instead of the Present Perfect tense: e.g. I just said it. This form of language usage seems to be occasionally found in British English (although, probably, less often than in American English). Moreover, besides the vernacular usage this form can be found in newspapers and research articles or reports.

Using a double negation within one simple sentence is a standard in other languages (e.g. Ukrainian); however, standard English admits only one negation within a simple sentence. The vernacular double negative form can be found in the emotional speech to underline complete absence or rejection of something, e.g. The don’t know nothing (he knows absolutely nothing).

In a fluid speech, the “-ing” suffix can be reduced to “-in'”. For example, Givin’ is better than taking.

The vernacular form “gonna/gon'” is the substitute for the standard English am/is/are going to. A good example of this usage is the song entitled “Stand by me” which is performed by Playing For Change. The song has the following lyrics: “You gon’ need somebody to stand by you”.

Finally, the vernacular form admits the usage of verbs of emotional perception in the Present Progressive (Present Continuous) tense, e.g. I‘m lovin’ it.

Grammar is the slowest layer of language to change (the vocabulary is the fastest layer). It is interesting to observe the vernacular forms discussed above. Presently, they deviate from standard English. However, some vernacular forms in English and other languages become the standard over time. The question is therefore, will these vernacular forms make their way into standard English?


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