diff'rent strokes

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New Member
What is the meaning of the sentence: "it takes Diff'rent Strokes to move the world", in the theme of the famous tv-sitcom with Gary Coleman?
  • fiercediva

    Senior Member
    American English
    Why is "diff'rent" spelled this way? Is the first e not pronounced? Is it a common pronunciation/spelling of this word?
    It is an effort to imitate the AAVE dialect of the Harlem-born Jackson brothers, the characters Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman played on the show, via spelling.

    One recalls Coleman's famous catchphrase, "What 'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" whenever Willis said something that perplexed Arnold.


    Senior Member
    English - United States
    It is an effort to imitate the AAVE dialect
    I agree that this was the intention; what's funny is that, as others have pointed out, above, this pronunciation of different is no diff'rent than the Standard American English pronunciation. It's not a formal pronunciation, but it's certainly not unique to AAVE. It's as strange as if they had spelled The Fresh Prince of Bel Air as Th' Fresh Prince 'a Bel Air - as if that weren't the Standard American English pronunciation (or for that matter Amon 'n' Andy - as if any but the most persnickety American English speaker would ever say "Amos and Andy"). These seem to be attempts to make African Americans more exotic than they actually are.


    New Member
    I’m African-American and I believe it (Diff’rent) referenced the economic difference between Harlem (where the two boys came from) and where they moved to (With Mr Drummond) on Park Ave. Difference in living, i.e., rent.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    That never occurred to me in all these years. I always thought they meant to make it look "ye olde curiousty shoppe" so you'd think of ye olde saying rather than "Alternate Infarctions" (a new medical drama coming soon!)


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Part of the reason for spelling it that was to make it stand out. And it worked.

    40 years later, when I saw the thread title, that's immediately what I thought of. I don't associate it with anything else. I was surprised to see it was the actual subject of the thread.
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