you kin allus tell a lady

Lee Jongho

Senior Member
Korean
What does "you kin allus tell a lady " mean?

The complete sentences follow:
“Ef you doan care ‘bout how folks talks ‘bout dis fainbly, Ah does,” she rumbled. “Ah ain’ gwine stand by an’ have eve’ybody at de pahty sayin’ how you ain’ fotched up right. Ah has tole you an’ tole you dat you kin allus tell a lady by dat she eat lak a bird. An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ter have you go ter Mist’ Wilkes’ an’ eat lak a fe’el han’ an’ gobble lak a hawg.”

The source us from Gone with the Wind by Magaret Mitchell
 
  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi LJ, you can always tell/recognise that someone is a lady (and not a commoner with no manners).
    The style is supposed to represent the speech of a black person in America - (I think. I haven't read the book or seen the film).
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The complete sentences follows:
    “Ef you doan care ‘bout how folks talks ‘bout dis fainbly, Ah does,” she rumbled. “Ah ain’ gwine stand by an’ have eve’ybody at de pahty sayin’ how you ain’ fotched up right. Ah has tole you an’ tole you dat you kin allus tell a lady by dat she eat lak a bird. An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ter have you go ter Mist’ Wilkes’ an’ eat lak a fe’el han’ an’ gobble lak a hawg.”
    :D Perhaps you can find a version that has an English translation or at least an annotated one!
     

    morior_invictus

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    "If you don't care about how folks talk about this family, I do," she rumbled. "I ain't going to stand by and have everybody at the party sayin' how you ain't fetched up right. I have told you and told you that you can always tell a lady by that she eats like a bird. And I ain't aimin' to have you go to Mister Wilkes' and eat like a field hand and gobble like a hog."
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Isn't it already in English?
    I'm speaking of the example, and I'm not sure. The example is an phonic representation as perceived by an upper-class white woman. I can accept that there is a possibility that it is, in that manner, quite accurate, however, such writing does have severe limitations.

    As an example, the sentence, "An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ter have you go ter Mist’ Wilkes’ an’ eat lak a fe’el han’ an’ gobble lak a hawg.” was completely mistranslated, although I could see how the mistranslation came about.

    When I was a boy, the local newspaper ran a column called "Old Amos." Old Amos's thoughts on local issues were written phonetically in the strong local dialect. It was often hard work trying to figure out what he was saying. My father commented "The trouble is that neither those who speak like that, nor anyone else can read it."

    I think that goes in spades for non-native speakers.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I'm speaking of the example, and I'm not sure. The example is an phonic representation as perceived by an upper-class white woman. I can accept that there is a possibility that it is, in that manner, quite accurate, however, such writing does have severe limitations.

    As an example, the sentence, "An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ter have you go ter Mist’ Wilkes’ an’ eat lak a fe’el han’ an’ gobble lak a hawg.” was completely mistranslated, although I could see how the mistranslation came about.

    When I was a boy, the local newspaper ran a column called "Old Amos." Old Amos's thoughts on local issues were written phonetically in the strong local dialect. It was often hard work trying to figure out what he was saying. My father commented "The trouble is that neither those who speak like that, nor anyone else can read it."

    I think that goes in spades for non-native speakers.
    I don't understand what you mean by "As an example, the sentence, "An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ... gobble lak a hawg.” was completely mistranslated." What translation are you speaking of, and what is the original?

    The text that Margaret Mitchell wrote may very well not accurately transcribe the speech of a person like Mammy at the time of the Civil War, but it's still a transcription of English (rather than Danish or Japanese or Yoruba) speech.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I don't understand what you mean by "As an example, the sentence, "An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ... gobble lak a hawg.” was completely mistranslated." What translation are you speaking of, and what is the original?
    I think that this is becoming completely misunderstood, and I am not sure why. My comment at #4 was directed at the OP rather than you, and expressed my sympathy with the difficulty that he must be facing.

    If you look at #1 you will find the sentence "An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ter have you go ter Mist’ Wilkes’ an’ eat lak a fe’el han’ an’ gobble lak a hawg.” The translation "to comprehensible Russian" of that sentence was done on the site I referred to. When translated into English, that translation was shown to be wildly inaccurate.

    I used this example to reply to you to demonstrate the difficulty that the OP (native language Korean) might be having (and almost certainly is having) with the phonetic representation.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I think that this is becoming completely misunderstood, and I am not sure why. My comment at #4 was directed at the OP rather than you, and expressed my sympathy with the difficulty that he must be facing.

    If you look at #1 you will find the sentence "An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ter have you go ter Mist’ Wilkes’ an’ eat lak a fe’el han’ an’ gobble lak a hawg.” The translation "to comprehensible Russian" of that sentence was done on the site I referred to. When translated into English, that translation was shown to be wildly inaccurate.

    I used this example to reply to you to demonstrate the difficulty that the OP (native language Korean) might be having (and almost certainly is having) with the phonetic representation.
    No wonder I was confused; I didn't see anything referring to a translation to comprehensible Russian. Is the reference in this thread?
    Everything makes sense now. Thanks very much for the explanation!
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I'm with Roxxxannne on this one. :)
    If you look at #1 you will find the sentence "An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ter have you go ter Mist’ Wilkes’ an’ eat lak a fe’el han’ an’ gobble lak a hawg.” The translation "to comprehensible Russian" of that sentence was done on the site I referred to. When translated into English, that translation was shown to be wildly inaccurate.
    You might have had that in your mind but it never made it to the page, thus causing confusion. There was no reference to any site made. (Maybe on a related post? Or an edit that got eaten like mine sometimes do.)

    But as difficult as it is, it's still an attempt to obviously show the large gap between the characters backgrounds. Standard English spoken by everyone just wouldn't get that across.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    For the benefit of those who might not be able to sleep tonight over this, and hopefully to tie up a loose end, a Russian version - possibly the one Paul was referring to - here (weblitera.com) does, indeed, make a dog's breakfast of "eat lak a fe'el han' an' gobble lak a hawg". It doesn't render the "lak a fe'el han' comparison properly (it says "grabbing whatever they can get their hands on"), and translates "lak a hawg" as "like a hawk".
    Now then, don't you feel better for knowing that? :p
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's possible, maybe, that "grabbing whatever they can get their hands on" is a loose translation of the general idea. But it seems that the concept of a field hand is one that would/should translate effectively to many places (maybe not Monaco ;)).
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I didn't see anything referring to a translation to comprehensible Russian. Is the reference in this thread?
    No. It really did not matter where the translation was, nor what the exact words were, merely that non-native speakers have difficulty with the phonetic script. Edinburgher's site is also a good example, but, for what it's worth, mine was the optimistically titled "studyenglishwords"
    УНЕСЕННЫЕ ВЕТРОМ Том 1 - Маргарет Митчелл (стр. 88) - параллельный перевод на английском
    The Russian translates "An’ Ah ain’ aimin’ ter have you go ter Mist’ Wilkes’ an’ eat lak a fe’el han’ an’ gobble lak a hawg.”
    as
    Frankly speaking, this is not to my liking, I will not allow you to attack Mr. Wilks, like a hawk, at a meal and start grabbing from plates whatever you get.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Sorry to appear to be pedantic and make a long thread even longer, but the Google translation is actually mistaken. The Russian doesn't say "attack Mr Wilkes", it says "I'm not going to have you at Mr Wilkes' house attacking the food like a hawk and grabbing whatever you can get your hands on from the plates". So they are attacking, pouncing upon (or, literally, "throwing themselves upon") the food at Mr Wilkes' house, not attacking or throwing themselves at Mr Wilkes himself. The (Russia-based) Yandex version makes a better (but still not very good) fist of it.
    I'm not going to have you at the Wilkes', like a hawk, snatching food from your plates and snatching it." (Yandex)
    But the general point - that the translation is inaccurate - is still valid.
    And of course those of you who believe that pigs can't fly have been proven wrong: the "hawg" turned into a "hawk". :eek:
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    ... And of course those of you who believe that pigs can't fly have been proven wrong: the "hawg" turned into a "hawk". :eek:
    :D

    The Margaret Mitchell original is an example of "dialect" being created for the eye and not for the ear. In fact, everybody pronounces "to" as /tə / and "and" as /an/. Mitchell is exaggerating when she writes them as "ter" and "an", just to drive home the point that this is black American dialest. And I would guess that in the Southern States, /doʊn/ /eɪmin/ and /pɑ:ti:/ are equally common to black and white speakers. But does Mitchell use them when her white characters talk?
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In fact, everybody pronounces "to" as /tə / and "and" as /an/. Mitchell is exaggerating when she writes them as "ter" and "an", just to drive home the point that this is black American dialest.
    You are forgetting that most American English accents are rhotic. When Mitchell writes "ter", she expects her American readers to understand that Mammy adds a distinct "r" sound to the end of the word. There are few Americans who would read "ter" as a phonetic representation and assume that the sound meant was /tə /.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    :D

    The Margaret Mitchell original is an example of "dialect" being created for the eye and not for the ear. In fact, everybody pronounces "to" as /tə / and "and" as /an/. Mitchell is exaggerating when she writes them as "ter" and "an", just to drive home the point that this is black American dialest. And I would guess that in the Southern States, /doʊn/ /eɪmin/ and /pɑ:ti:/ are equally common to black and white speakers. But does Mitchell use them when her white characters talk?
    There's a conversation among a lot of white characters in chapter 1. Not surprisingly, their speech is not in dialect. Scarlett, for instance, says "You know there isn’t going to be any war,” said Scarlett, bored. “It’s all just talk. Why, Ashley Wilkes and his father told Pa just last week that our commissioners in Washington would come to — to — an — amicable agreement with Mr. Lincoln about the Confederacy. And anyway, the Yankees are too scared of us to fight. There won’t be any war, and I’m tired of hearing about it.”
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    No, really? You think that this black slave said /tɜ:ʳ/ ?

    This is Mitchell writing a kind of accepted argot that in effect says "Dear reader, please assume that this character is an uneducated Afro-American from the southern states." It doesn't really represent the pronunciation. "Eat lak a fe’el han’" could just as easily have been written eat laik a fiel' han'.

    The same kind of writing style makes Cockney Londoners say "He wuz gonna" when the educated characters say "He was going to". In fact both say /hi: wəz goʊnə/ in rapid speech.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    I agree with Keith Bradford that Mitchell uses eye dialect for the speech of black characters such as Mammy. Both black and white people from the same place would pronounce many words in the same way.

    It's also true, as GreenWhiteBlue says, that most American accents are rhotic. However, at least some Georgia accents are non-rhotic. Mitchell was from Atlanta, Georgia. A relative of mine, who was born and grew up in Athens (near Atlanta), was non-rhotic and pronounced the name of her home state as "Jawja" (how's that spelling for eye dialect?:)), as did other Georgians that I met. Maybe Mitchell meant that Mammy had the odd habit of pronouncing the R.
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    She is trying to make a distinction that I believe had to be there. An educated white Southerner was unlikely to sound identical to an uneducated black slave, despite having some pronunciation characteristics in common. People of different social classes have different manners of speech and different vocabulary. Those are real differences and they persist to this day.

    Whether Margaret Mitchell, as an author, did a good job of highlighting/transcribing those differences effectively (or whether it was necessary to do that) I'll leave for you to decide. But those differences surely existed, as they still do. She wasn't making that part up.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    True, there certainly were - and often still are, to a lesser extent - differences in speech, as kentix says.
     
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