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A fresh look at habitual <i>be</i> in AAVE

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Abstract

In this paper, I describe the use of agentive <i>be</i> (‘If you don’t be careful, you will be caught’) in informal American English. I will show that agentive <i>be</i> has largely the same syntactic behavior as habitual <i>be</i> in AAVE (African American Vernacular English). Based on these similarities, I will conclude the paper by raising a number of questions about the origin of habitual <i>be</i> in AAVE.

References

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