Sunday, July 08, 2012

"The charm of a real voice": "Good Old Boy usages"

Today's NYT Book Review covers Gregg Allman's new autobiography. The book was co-authored with Alan Light, and the review addresses some of the issues that come with that particular kind of collaboration:
“My Cross to Bear” has all the earmarks of a text dictated by its subject and cleaned up by someone else, meaning it has too many ho-hum moments but also the charm of a real voice. In Allman’s case, that’s a lot of correct Good Old Boy usages (“you didn’t want to wear no pair of wool pants without no drawers on”) that may challenge readers not conversant with that tongue. 
Now,  it's not my place to judge whether "you didn’t want to wear no pair of wool pants without no drawers on" is 'correct' Good Old Boy. I'm not even sure exactly what parameters define Good Old Boy as a tongue. I'm thinking 'tongue' means sociolect, and I've got some hunches about its characteristics.

But does that sentence actually challenge any native speaker of American English?  I think that 'drawers' is still widely known as a term for 'underwear', right? And the negative concord has got to be easily interpretable by native speakers of any kind of English. Colorful, yeah, but challenging to understand? Now that I think about it, I'm not even sure the sentence is all that charming. And be that as it may, I sure ain't wearing no wool pants without no drawers on. 


Jonathon said...

I don't find that challenging at all, and I'm having a hard time imagining any other native American English speakers finding it honestly challenging.

Mike Koplow said...

Jonathan and Mr. Verb, I agree. Whether the statement is charming or not depends on its context, and I'm probably not interested enough to find that out. Charming or not, though, it seems like good advice.

Mr. Verb said...

Yeah, key point: good advice. Thanks.