Sharif <don't> like it

  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In a song, fitting the words to the music is often more important than following the grammar rules of correct speech precisely. Sometimes the music requires a one-syllable word where grammar rules call for a two-syllable word. Someone writing a song might choose the closest one-syllable word even if that violates the rules. If it happens to be a one-syllable word that is sometimes used instead of the two-syllable word in informal conversation or in some dialects of English, so much the better!
     

    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In a song, fitting the words to the music is often more important than following the grammar rules of correct speech precisely. Sometimes the music requires a one-syllable word where grammar rules call for a two-syllable word. Someone writing a song might choose the closest one-syllable word even if that violates the rules. If it happens to be a one-syllable word that is sometimes used instead of the two-syllable word in informal conversation or in some dialects of English, so much the better!
    I think in the cited cases it's not a matter of syllable count but rather of register. Songwriters who use "don't" for "doesn't" are trying to make their lyrics sound more informal, more folksy, more unaffected, and in some cases more countercultural. "Don't" declares that this is music of the people, not of the pampered classes who wouldn't be caught dead using "don't" in the 3rd person singular.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Songwriters who use "don't" for "doesn't" are trying to make their lyrics sound more informal, more folksy, more unaffected, and in some cases more countercultural.

    "Don't it make my brown eyes blue?":thumbsdown:

    "Your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock & roll" :thumbsup:

    I think that's true of the second example but probably not of the first. The first is more about flow and craftsmanship. That second syllable messes everything up. Also, if you look at the lyrics, you see there's a pattern being maintained. "I don't" is shortened to "Don't" ("Don't know when I've been so blue".) at the beginning of earlier lines. This use of "Don't" matches that earlier use, even though it's not short for the same phrase.

    Don't know when I've been so blue
    Don't know what's come over you
    You've found someone new and
    Don't it make my brown eyes blue
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The first is more about flow. That second syllable messes everything up. Also, if you look at the lyrics, you see there's a pattern being maintained. In earlier lines, "I don't" is shortened to "Don't" ("Don't know when I've been so blue".). This use of "Don't" at the beginning of a line matches that earlier use, even though it's not short for the same phrase.
    Your reasoning has a "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" problem. Did Richard Leigh (the songwriter) change the lyric to match the tune or did he write the tune to match the lyric? Does the title use "don't" to match the rest of the song or does the rest of the song use "don't" to match the title?
     

    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Don't it make my brown eyes blue?":thumbsdown:

    "Your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock & roll" :thumbsup:

    I think that's true of the second example but probably not of the first. The first is more about flow and craftsmanship. That second syllable messes everything up. Also, if you look at the lyrics, you see there's a pattern being maintained. "I don't" is shortened to "Don't" ("Don't know when I've been so blue".) at the beginning of earlier lines. This use of "Don't" matches that earlier use, even though it's not short for the same phrase.

    Don't know when I've been so blue
    Don't know what's come over you
    You've found someone new and
    Don't it make my brown eyes blue
    Possibly. But a lyricist who uses "don't" this way has at least to be ready to accept that this usage will mark the lyric as dialectical and non-standard.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Does the title use "don't" to match the rest of the song or does the rest of the song use "don't" to match the title?
    Sorry, but that doesn't really address my point. I don't think "Don't" is used because he wants to make it seem all folksy or "countrified". Listen to Crystal Gayle sing it and tell me that's the intended purpose.:confused:

    This one, on the other hand...
    "Your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock & roll" :thumbsup:

    will mark the lyric...as non-standard.
    Heaven forbid, a non-standard lyric! From my experience reading questions about song lyrics on this forum that's not something many songwriters spend a whole lot of time worrying about.:)
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    Sharif don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah


    Sharif doesn't like it I don't understand why the song use "don't". Any reason?

    Using 2 syllables instead of 1 would not fit the music. The music has 2 notes <pause> 3 notes. It is a dramatic melody. But it's a tricky one, so let me diagram a simpler one:

    "Your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock & roll"

    The musical notes of the song have a pattern. The stressed syllables in the English sentence match the stressed beats in the music.

    Your mama don't dance and your da-ddy don't rock & roll

    If you laid these words out on sheet music, you would notice the 4 bold syllables occur on beats 1 and 3 of the two bars: the downbeats or emphasized beats in 4/4 music.

    Also some of the syllables use one beat (one quarter-note in 4/4 time) and some of them are half a beat (an eighth note). Numbering the beats and using "1-1" to mean two syllables in one beat, the pattern is:

    Your mama don't dance and your da-ddy don't rock & roll
    -4 | 1-1 2 3 4-4 | 1-1 2 3 4-4| A

    ...where A is the last 4 carried over to the downbeat. This is followed by 8 beats of silence, then the pattern repeats.

    If each "don't" became "doesn't" each would be 2-2, changing the music to a less attractive pattern (1-1 2-2 3 4-4). The person who wrote the song prefers (1-1 2 3 4-4). Often, the music is written first, then the lyrics are written later, by someone else.
     
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