Da (muckefuck) wrote in linguaphiles,

Quick AAVE question

You ain't got to be in the street.
In context (i.e. caregiver to child) this was being used with imperative force, more or less equivalent to "Get out of the street!" But my question is whether, ignoring the pragmatics for a moment, it is also semantically a prohibitive (cf. Standard English "You shouldn't be in the street") or a negated necessitative (cf. "There is no need for you to be in the street"). I know we have some native/fluent speakers in the group, what's your read on it?

ETA: Thanks to teoli and thefish30 for the quick and informative replies.
Tags: aave, semantics
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  • 3 comments

teaoli

January 13 2014, 18:01:26 UTC 7 months ago

If I'd overheard the comment*, I would have thought the speaker intended it as both. Actually, I'd probably see it as something in between because I'd see the intended message as "Not only shouldn't you be in the street right now, there is also never a reason for you to be in the street."

*I should clarify that I would only see the message in these two ways if it was directed at someone who was actually standing/walking/playing in a literal street; otherwise, I my instinct would be to translate "the street" as a metaphorical term. The message would be something else again: There's no need for you to be out and about. There's no need for you to engage in the sort of activities/lifestyle attributed to "the street". (Or something similar to those two messages.)

thefish30

January 13 2014, 18:29:00 UTC 7 months ago

I think the only way I could interpret "You ain't got to" is as "You don't have to/There is no need for you to." In context, "There could be no possible excuse for you to be in the street," may be implied.

fencer_x

January 14 2014, 04:23:23 UTC 7 months ago

Not a native speaker of the dialect, but having grown up around such speakers, I remember hearing phrases to the tune of "You ain't supposed to be doing that", which indicated that not only did they not have permission to do the action, they should not be doing the action. I don't recall hearing "got" as opposed to "supposed", but perhaps it's similar? Louisiana, USA.