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The Grammaticalization of done in Non-Standard English

Patrice Larroque
p. 23-36


Il semble que d’une manière générale l’emploi de done en anglais non-standard dans des schémas tels que DONE + V-ed/-en ou DONE + V passe par la grammaticalisation du participe passé du verbe do dans les constructions perfectives. Cette étude examine la fonction syntaxique et sémantique de done en position préverbale en se fondant sur l’hypothèse d’Antoine Meillet (1912 : 140) selon laquelle les mots les plus fréquemment utilisés s’affaiblissent et évoluent vers des formes plus intenses. On peut, en effet, se demander si, dans ce type de construction, done doit être considéré comme un adverbe dont le sens se rapprocherait de celui de already ou comme un modal renvoyant à une attitude prise à l’égard du contenu propositionnel.
Entre ces deux valeurs on observe une ré-analyse du verbe en auxiliaire qui met en évidence l’engagement de l’énonciateur.

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1One general way by which non-standard English has acquired done in such patterns as DONE + V-ed/-en or DONE + V may involve the grammaticalization of the past participle form of the verb do in perfective constructions. The following are some representative examples of the aforementioned patterns:

(1) I done burnt myself out on pastrami already this year. (National BBQ news forums, March 2009)

(2) Marse Dusey had done died somewhars. (Silas Smith 85, from slave narratives, Nov. 1937)

(3) She done know wha’ goin’ on. (cited in Winford 1993: 153)

  • 1 Have is inferred in (1) and (3), and done is redundant in (2). The duplication of marks adds an i (...)

2Such constructions are commonly observed in non-standard speech and appear to be more expressive – they clearly insist on completeness1 − than the standard HAVE + V-en structure. The meaning of done is quite close to that of the adverb already, compatible with perfective aspectuality (Pullum & Huddleston 2002: 124), unless one perceives an underlying grammatical (and attitudinal) value which HAVE + V-en does not have.

The process of grammaticalization

3The process of grammaticalization rests on a change in status of words from full lexical items to grammatical morphemes. It was first defined by Meillet (1912: 131) as “the shift of an erstwhile autonomous word to the role of a grammatical element.” (“…le passage d’un mot autonome au rôle d’élément grammatical.”) Thus, words from lexical categories such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs become grammatical or function words like auxiliaries or prepositions, which in turn may be grammaticalized into bound morphemes (McMahon 1994: 160). That is, lexical words undergo a category change in certain linguistic contexts, and while they lose some of their semantic content, they acquire syntactic properties and fulfil grammatical functions which they continue and develop (Hopper & Traugott 1993:15). Thus grammaticalization exists in a context of related changes which can be regarded as a continuum. A well-known example is the Old English independent word (ge)lic, meaning “shape” or “body” which lost its lexical status and was only retained as an ending, –lice, later reduced to -ly. The northern pronunciation of -lice gave like which is both a function word and an affix used with nouns to form adjectives (childlike, lifelike), sometimes hyphenated as in flu-like (symptoms) or like-minded.

4Grammaticalization may also concern the development of sense, that is, the semantic extension of grammatical items from concrete to more abstract or metaphorical meanings. According to Kurylowicz (1965: 69), grammaticalization “consists in the increase of the range of a morpheme advancing from a lexical to a grammatical or from a less grammatical to a more grammatical status, e.g. from a derivative formant to an inflectional one”. For instance, the expression there is/are derives from the locative adverb there to become a syntactic subject, sometimes reduced to there’s as in the sentence there’s lots of fish in the sea. The phrase has lost its adverbial meaning of lots of fish are there and has changed into a grammatical cluster. The copula is/are is reduced to a meaningless affix. Another example of this is the French future tense which is the result of the grammaticalization of Latin habēre which, combined with an infinitive, gave the suffix shown in (4):

(4) habeo cantare (I have to sing) > cantare habeo > cantare ai (with phonological reduction and semantic bleaching) > je chanter-ai (I will sing, with clitisation and creation of a new inflectional morphology).

5Thus, as can be seen in the above examples, grammaticalization is not only syntactic, but also morphological and phonological; it occurs when the original deictic forms (cf. are there, habeo) are felt to be less meaningful relative to the speech act.

6The desaspectualization of the present perfect – i.e. the partial or total loss of its perfective aspect – used with past reference adverbials as in the sentence And Roberts has played with us last season (cited in Hughes & Trudgill 1996: 10) may contribute to the weakening of HAVE + V-en as an attitudinal marker and the creation of a new expressive turn of phrase.


7Meillet (1912: 140) suggests that forms evolve semantically and morphologically on account of expressiveness, in the sense that it conveys clear and effective meaning, and lends more weight to words and phrases (see also McMahon 1994: 164-165). A similar comment is offered by Zeevat (2006): “the functional items are needed because otherwise the expressivity of our languages would be insufficient, for the purposes that we pursue with our linguistic communication is unavoidable.”

  • 2 Other nouns, such as rien, point, mie, goutte, âme, personne, and the adverb jamais serve the sam (...)

8Thus, expressiveness is undoubtedly related to expression which is one of the main functions of language. Something that is expressive is significant. But frequently used words tend to weaken in meaning and lose some of their expressive force. In order to intensify their expression, that is the quality of expressing or representing an attitude, a relation, or a feeling, these words require reinforcement and gradually evolve into more emphatic or attitudinal forms. The case of the French negative is a good example of this type of grammaticalization: the negative particle ne of Old French was reinforced by the addition of the noun pas (meaning step)2 which has completely lost its nominal meaning in negative phrases and has become a negative marker, with ne progressively omitted as shown in (5):

(5) je ne sais > je ne sais pas > je sais pas (I don’t know).

9However, if grammaticalization is the first stage in language change, it is not only and always due to the speaker’s desire for expressiveness. Croft (2010), for instance, argues that morphosyntactic change may be the result of synchronic variations and not necessarily of required mechanisms, and that « grammaticalization and language change originates in the variation inherent in the verbalization of experience». It is nonetheless the operational choice made by the speaker according to his/her own mental representation. Moreover, it appears that ambiguous or multifunctional forms (such as do) are most likely to be affected by variation and change as they reflect semantic and perhaps grammatical weaknesses which offer possibilities of re-analysis (Aitchison 1991: 93-95). The Modern English modal verbs and their Old English predecessors the premodals (e.g. magan, cunnan, sculan, motan,…) were syntactically and semantically predisposed to change as they involve the speaker’s judgement on a proposition. In time they have gained evaluative, perceptual and cognitive meanings, and have later developed an epistemic sense which is clearly and increasingly subjective (Traugott 1996: 201).

10Starting from Meillet’s assumption that frequently used words lose their expressive force and gradually evolve into more emphatic forms, the present study investigates the syntactic and semantic function of preverbal done. Indeed, in this type of construction it is questionable whether done should be regarded as an adverb roughly meaning already or a modal auxiliary referring to the speaker’s attitude to the propositional content.

11Preverbal done is a widespread feature in non-standard English dialects and there has been some discussion concerning its use and meaning.

An issue that has risen to a good amount of previous discussions in the literature

  • 3 African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is considered by many to be a prime example of decreol (...)

12The subject of preverbal done has been abundantly approached in the literature. For example, the pattern was attested in Older Scots (Curme 1935) and Middle English (Mustanoja 1960). It is reported for Black English by Atwood (1953), Labov (Labov et al. 1968; Labov 1972) who refers to this type of construction as “another Southernism, widely used among Whites” (Labov et al. 1968: 265), and Rickford (1975) for Gullah. Wolfram and Christian (1975) quote instances of preverbal done in Appalachian dialects. The approach put forth by Dillard (1972) divides done into two forms, one in initial position in the verb phrase as in (1), the other with an auxiliary preceding it as in sentence (2). Bickerton (1975) describes the shift of done to preverbal position as the first step in decreolization, a process by which a creole language homogenizes with its parent language, for instance English.3 Winford (1993) treats done as a variant of have in contexts involving nonstative predicates, otherwise the semantics and uses of done are somewhat different from those of resultative have. In most cases done is interpreted as already (3). Chevillet (1991: 194), in his remarks about West Indian English (e.g. We dun walk to work), and Feagin (1995: 179) argue that done has an intensive meaning in addition to its perfective function (perfective indicating the completion of an action or state denoted by the verb). Feagin’s explanations for done essentially concern non-standard Alabama English.

The corpus

13The data which are described in this paper are a selection of utterances in which preverbal done occurs, taken from a collection of ex-slave narratives made up in 1941 by Work Projects Administration and released in February 2009 (Title: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves). It consists of interviews with former slaves conducted in 1937-38 in which they relate their life experience (cf. Croft’s verbalization of experience). All the informants, age between 75 and 90, with no or little education, are from South Carolina (S.C.). The language and the transcriptions reflect inadequate competence, both phonologically and grammatically, as regards Standard English, but the performance can be recognized and interpreted by a large number of English-speaking people, although some passages may remain unclear.

14This particular corpus presents sentences in which done appears not only in preverbal position, but also as past tense and past participle forms of do. As Quirk et al. (1973: 153) put it, “one may perceive a stage-by-stage extension” in the expressive use of done, running from the event embodied in the lexical verb and reported by the past tense form to the attitudinal auxiliary applying to a non-finite form of a lexical verb, i.e. a bare infinitive.

15Let us begin with the first stage of the extension, the simple past tense or preterite.

Done as simple past tense (preterite)

16The preterite “appears when the event in hand is past but lacks the connection of relevance to the present.” (McCoard 1978: 31). In other words, the event is located prior to the moment of speaking, but it is only reported as significant in itself. In the following examples done is the preterite form of lexical do since the events have to do with a particular period of time in the past separated from the speaker’s here-and-now.

(6) When freedom come, my folks stayed on with Capt; Posey, and I washed and ironed with them later when I was big enough. I done some cooking too. (Ann Rice, 75, S.C. June 1937)

(7) Dey put a rail fence all around de fields, and in them days the fields was never bigger than 10 or 15 acres. Logs was plentiful, and some niggers called “rail splitters” never done nothing else but split rails to make fences. (Jessie Rice, 80, S.C. Jan. 1938)

(8) Honey, I done a lot of work bout dis town en I don’ suffer for nothin’. (Mom Jessie Sparrow, 83, S.C. Oct. 1937)

(9) De work I done was choppin’ de grass out of de cotton and pick de cotton. (Mack Taylor, 97, S.C. 1937)

(10) And I done like another fool! I rode off behind the two brood mares, on the corn, and where they rested that night, I rested right there. (Uncle Willie Williams, 89-90, S.C. 1937)

(11) I thought Abe Lincoln was a fine man, done mighty good and saved the country. (Morgan Scurry, 78, S.C. May 1937)

(12) Dr. Bell’s calves got out and did not come back for a long time. (Jessie Rice)

17In sentences (6-11) which belong to the narratives, done refers to the objective evocation of the events (simple past), with no connection to the present. Note that done is a full verb to be contrasted with did (auxiliary) as in (12). In non-standard English there is a morphological distinction between the preterite form of the lexical verb (done) and that of the auxiliary (did). Conversely, the preterite and the past participle of lexical do are morphologically the same (Andersson & Trudgill 1990: 119-121; Larroque 2002: 73-74).

Done as past participle: the perfective aspect

  • 4 Modern English regular verbs derive from a set of Old English verbs whose past tense was marked w (...)

18Historically, the preterite and the past participle have a common origin. They derive from Old English forms of past tense. The evolution of so-called strong verbs, for instance, shows that there seemed to be some confusion between the past tense and past participle (e.g. the vowels of strong verbs interchanged in the dialects of Middle English, see Freeborn 1998: 106), probably influenced by the system of weak verbs.4 In the 17th and 18th centuries, the same form was used for both (Stévanovitch 1997: 81). Moreover, a large number of English verbs today still have the same tense inflection in both cases, either regular or irregular. Here is a non-standard illustration of this:

(13) “I’ve knew guys that done screwy things.” (J. Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath)

19In example (13), the past tense form (knew) is used as the past participle and the original past participle (done) is used as the preterite form (see Hughes & Trudgill 1996: 24-25, for further discussion). The distinction between the two is signaled only by the presence of the auxiliary have (‘ve).

20The auxiliaries preceding done in the data are have and be in their third person forms has and is. In the cases of be + done it is questionable whether be is a relexification of have (Feagin 1995: 165) or the verb of a predicative phrase with an optional copula. Examples follow:

(14) Us have five chillun, one boy and four girl. I’s done a heap for my country. I wants Mr. Roosevelt to hear “bout dat. (Al Rosboro, 90, S.C., 1937)

(15) No president has done for the poor of both races as the one now president. (Reuben Rosboro, 82, S.C. 1937)

Note that I’s done in (14) can be construed as I has as in (16):

(16) You know I sees so much “skimpin” to make ends meet at home, as we go “long, dat I has never married. (Martha Richardon, born 1860, S.C. 1937)

21The constructions in bold face can be analyzed as present perfects: the completed nature of the event is denoted by the perfective/resultative aspect. The event has a relevance to the present moment. As an auxiliary, have contributes to locate the predicate relative to the subject and establishes a direct relationship with the speaker (cf. the relevance to the present moment). Thus, the event is anchored to the moment of coding. The present perfect, it should be emphasized, is an aspect and as such it refers to the way the flow of the action/event is viewed or conceived of with reference to the internal temporal consistuency of the situation (Comrie 1975: 3-4), and therefore implies the involvement of the speaker.

22It may also be noted that the perfective aspect presupposes an end-point, a result, and possibly a change of state as in (17):

(17) Him stayed over his leave dat was writ on the pass. Patarollers (patrollers) come ask de pass. They say: “time done out, nigger.” Pappy tried to explain but they pay no “tention to him. (Manda Walker, 80, S.C. 1937)

23Time done out can be rephrased as time is (done) out. In this case the copula is not a relexification of have, but it describes the state in which the starting point of the sentence is. As mentioned above, this state is actually the result of a change of state, from <time – not out> to <time – out>, that is of a process (e.g. time has run out). This is possible because the process is posited as completed (done) in the pivotal situation. Consider the following examples:

(18) All my brothers, sisters, mother and father is done gone. And I is looking to leave befo’ a great while. (Jessie Rice, 80, S.C. Jan. 1938)

(19) I been here a time. Dat de reason I done wid de world. God knows I is done. I is done. I recollects, way back yonder, Pa would sing:
“Dey ain’t had no eyes for to see
Dey ain’t had no teeth for to eat
En dey had to let de corn cake go
Gwine wwhe’ all de good niggers go.”

(20) Lawd have mercy, white folks! Here I is, done drapped plumb off ‘n my subject. (Jessie Rice, 80, S.C. 1938)

24In sentence (18) done is adverbial. It denotes the speaker’s subjectivity as regards the action and emphasizes completeness (done = already). Example (19) says the final state (the result, as discussed for example 17 above), the end-point. Sentence (20) clearly shows an increasing involvement of the speaker in his production. Done has an intensive meaning, the sense of completeness being lent by plumb (= completely).

25According to Feagin (1995:179), however, done as a perfective marker can be regarded as redundant in this type of construction as well as in sentences in which HAVE + V-en occurs as the surface realization of perfect.

Done + V-ed/-en

26In most contexts done seems to be functioning as a perfective operator: HAVE + V-en replaced by DONE + V-en expressing the completion of the event or state denoted by the verb. There was a done in Middle English which had fairly the same perfective meaning, but it was preceded by the auxiliary have (Mustanoja 1960: 605-606), for example:

(21) An oratorie, riche for to see,
In worship of Dyane of Chastitee,
Hath Theseus doon wroght in noble wyse.
(G. Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, “The Knyghtes Tale’, stanza 7, also cited in Mustanoja 1960: 605, and Feagin 1995: 183)

(22) Thise marchantz han doon fraught hir shippes newe,
And whan they han this blisful mayden sayn,
Hoom to Surrye been they went ful fayn,
And doon his nedes as they han doon yore,
And liven in wele, I kan sey yow namoore.
(G. Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, “The Tale of the Man of Law’, ll. 171-175, also cited in Mustanoja 1960: 605 and Feagin 1995: 183)

27These sentences show that the construction is not a grammatical innovation. Ellegård (1953) and Visser (1966-2002) point out that the usage was common in the 15th and 16th centuries. The difference is that have, being unstressed, has been naturally deleted as a surface marker, but not the underlying operation (see the analyses of examples 24 and 25 below). Done is then grammaticalized as locator and perfective operator.

28In the following examples, done indicates that the happening is related to a point in the past or relevant to something observable in the present:

(23) De day I was born, it b’long to my master, David Gaillard. Miss Louisa, dats Master David’s wife, “low to me one day, “Ned don’t you ever call de master, old master, and don’t you ever think of me as old miss’. I promise her dat I keep dat always in mind, and I ain’t gonna change, though she done gone on to heaven and is in de choir a singin’ and a singin’ them chants dat her could pipe so pretty at St. Johns, in Winnsboro. (Ned Walker, 83, S.C., 1937)

(24) After de war I stuck to de Peay white folks, ‘til I got married to Will Harrison. I can’t say I love him, though he was de father of all my chillun. My pappy, you know, was a half white man. Maybe dat explain it. Anyhow, when he took de fever I sent for Dr. Gibson, “tend him faithful but he die and I felt more like I was free, when I come back from de funeral, than I did when Marse Abe Lincoln set us free. My brudder, Bob, had done gone to Florida. (Rosa Starcke, 83, S.C. 1937)

(25) Dr. Bell’s calves got out and did not come back for a long time. Mrs. Bell fear’d dat dey was gitting wild, so she sent de milk girl down on de creek to git dem calves. Dat girl had a time, but she found ‘em and drove ‘em back to de lot. De calves give her a big chase and jumped de creek near a big raft of logs dat had done washed up from freshets. All over dem logs she saw possums, musrats and buzzards a-setting around. She took her stick and drove dem all away, wid dem buzzards puking at her. When dey had left, she see’d uncle Alex laying up dar half e’t up by all dem varmints. (Jessie Rice, 80, S.C. Jan. 1938)

  • 5 By “objective”, we understand that it is based only on facts located in the past, with no connect (...)

29Diachronically, if the rise of have + V-en to mark the relation to a reference can be attributed to the aoristic derivation of markers, the simple past tense being too objective,5 it follows that done with V-en can be regarded as a synchronic illustration of that development by creating a new, more expressive construction to locate the event by relating it to the speech situation and the speaker. The development falls into three stages:

  1. V-ed/-en (gone, in 23 and 24, washed up in 25) represents the temporal root (the past),

  2. done can be reworded as have done, which is the intermediary stage in the development,

  3. done stands alone, have is deleted (done presupposes have) and the locative element is the time of speaking itself as in (23). When the event is doubly anterior, that is anterior to the present time, the reference point is identified by the preterite inflection on have (had) as in (24-25).

30Notice, moreover, that the duplication of marks often indicates intensity in speech. For instance, in example (19) the structure I is done is repeated twice. This type of iteration can be regarded as an expression of intensity. A similar analysis may apply to done washed up and done gone in which the past participle is doubled: done can be construed as a substitute for the verb and act as an auxiliary used for emphasis in the same way as contrastive do in positive utterances as in the sentence People do come to Paris regularly for shopping. A representation of the evolution can be thus:

31Done signals a confirmation (reassertion) by the speaker which aims at an element inferred from the speech situation. In (23) done gone occurs in a concessive clause which implies a contradiction and presupposes

[she – not go to heaven]

  [S       NOT       P]

32The confirmation of the above can be:

She hasn’t done [S   NOT   P]

Then the negative particles cancel each other, and we obtain

She done [S – P]

which yields, with the necessary transformations: she done gone to heaven.

33In addition, this sentence has an emphatic meaning, for it should not be forgotten that in non-standard English the situation of the utterance is often the only locator and plays a significant part in building up the referential value (Larroque 2006: 154-157). Although the locative surface markers are deleted, the operation remains. The predication is considered in relation to the speaker.

34Similarly, in (24) the context presupposes that the brother was with the narrator for their father’s funeral:

[My brother – not go to Florida].

             [S    NOT     P]

35The narrator reaffirms the statement:

My brother had not [S  NOT  P] in which [S  NOT  P] implies “my brother was with me”.

Then the negative elements cancel each other:

My brother had done [S−P]: my brother had done gone to Florida.

36Turning to example (25), it indicates a result observable in the past: the event (a big raft of logs washed up from freshets) is located relative to the speaker (a big raft of logs had washed up from freshets) who endorses the predication and reaffirms it : [a big raft of logs had washed up from freshets] is done; hence the added intensive value. Thus, the non-standard DONE + V-ed/-en construction can be analyzed as a mark of perfective aspect in replacement of the standard HAVE + V-en phrase with an extra emphatic value (cf. emphatic do in positive sentences), in view of the markedness of the non-standard language. Furthermore, in addition to occurring with V-ed/-en, done is also found with non-finite verbs.

Done + V

37Focusing on the speaker’s involvement, one relevant feature concerns the non-standard DONE + V construction which is reminiscent of the historical evolution of modal verbs in English. Indeed, some similarities appear when one thinks of the shift of preterite-present forms to so-called modal auxiliaries. Preterite-present verbs are very old verbs whose present tense shows the form of an irregular past tense (preterite) with perfective meaning (e.g. I got > I have acquired > I have, in contemporary American English). In Modern English their syntactic and semantic behavior set them apart from the other verbs, innovating a distinct grammatical category. Consider examples (26-27):

(26) Well, how I is ramblin’. You see dere was Master David and Mistress Louisa, de king bee and de queen bee. They had a plantation down on de Santee, in deLow Country, somewhere ‘bout Moncks Corner. One day Master David buy a 1,385 acres on Wateree Creek. He also buy de Clifton place, to live in, in Winnsboro. I can’t git my mind back to tell you what I wants for you to put on de paper. ’scuse me, forgit everything, ‘til you git my pedigree down.
I done name Master David and Mistress Louisa. Now for de chillun. Us was told to front de boys name wid Marse and de young ladies name wid Miss. Now us can go and git somewhere. (Ned Walker, 83, S.C. 1937)

(27) All I know ‘bout Abraham Lincoln was dat he Abraham Lincoln en he de one cause freedom. I recollect dey used to sing song ‘bout him, but I done forget it now. Say they hung Abraham Lincoln on the sour apple tree or old Jeff Davis or something like dat. Honey, dat all I know. Can’t recollect nothing more den dat ‘bout it. (Mom Jessie Sparrow, 83, S.C. Oct. 1937)

38In these sentences (in bold face) done functions syntactically as a modal preceding the verb base. Linguistically, the speaker shows his/her complete certainty regarding the subject-predicate structure. One may contend that in example (26) the verb name is the elided form of named, in which case it could be analyzed as in the previous examples. But name can also be construed as an infinitive since the whole utterance appears to be subject to modality and name desactualized: first, there are interpersonal parameters (cf. “Scuse me, forgit everything”); secondly, the phrase I done name expresses the reaffirmation of who the speaker is and where he comes from (‘til you get my pedigree), and only the notional evocation of the verb (name) is relevant here. Done emanates directly from the speaker and therefore denotes an attitude to the proposition. This is reinforced by the contrast stated in the next sentence (Now for de chillun). In (27), the subject-predicate nexus <I-forget> is the mirror image of Can’t recollect and somehow applies to the residual proposition I recollect initially mentioned.


39This study has presented some factors that relate preverbal done to an intention or an attitude on the part of the speaker. There is a gradual re-analysis of the verb as an auxiliary. Initially, done is either the preterite form or the past participle of an autonomous verb. Being used in perfective constructions, the locative function fulfilled by have is transferred from the auxiliary to the verb as shown in examples (18), (20), (23), (24), (25), (26), and (27) where done means that the speaker is involved in his production. It appears alongside another verb V-ed/-en or V. Semantic bleaching occurs at the same time, the sense shifting from that of an ordinary transitive or intransitive verb (do) to the notion of completeness which can be linked to the metaphorical concept of change (see Lakoff & Johnson 2003, ch.14). Done is then reinterpreted as a preverbal element marking the speaker’s involvement and becomes grammatical.

40Thus, in a number of contexts, done is undergoing a category change extending from adverbial to modal operator, when it governs a non-finite verb. It should be noted, moreover, that preverbal done in (23-27) is not used in constructions involving a direct object: the object site is filled by a lexical verb (V-ed/-en or V), just like with modal verbs which have developed syntactic characteristics, especially during the early Modern English period (in the 15th century) when they ceased being used with direct objects (Crépin 1994:145).

41Apart from “adding emphasis to the perfect meaning of the sentence” (Feagin 1995: 180), done is in the last examples (26-27) clearly attitudinal and bears witness to the relationship or relativity between the form of an utterance and the speech act it performs.

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1 Have is inferred in (1) and (3), and done is redundant in (2). The duplication of marks adds an intensifying force to the utterance. In addition, done seems to be in a stressed position in (3).

2 Other nouns, such as rien, point, mie, goutte, âme, personne, and the adverb jamais serve the same function, some of which (particularly rien, personne, jamais) have acquired a negative sense through continual association with negativity.

3 African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is considered by many to be a prime example of decreolization as it developed from an English pidgin (a simplified language used as a means of communication between slaves) with African features. It then became a creole language which has undergone decreolization through its contact with standard varieties of American English.

4 Modern English regular verbs derive from a set of Old English verbs whose past tense was marked with the dental suffix /t/ or /d/; they are called weak verbs. Modern English irregular verbs, on the other hand, come from Old English verbs marked for tense by changes of vowel and called strong verbs.

5 By “objective”, we understand that it is based only on facts located in the past, with no connection with the speech situation.

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Bibliographical reference

Patrice Larroque, The Grammaticalization of done in Non-Standard EnglishAnglophonia/Sigma, 15 (30) | 2011, 23-36.

Electronic reference

Patrice Larroque, The Grammaticalization of done in Non-Standard EnglishAnglophonia/Sigma [Online], 15 (30) | 2011, Online since 20 April 2015, connection on 27 January 2022. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Patrice Larroque

EMMA, EA 741, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier 3.

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Licence Creative Commons
Anglophonia – French Journal of English Linguistics est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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