Seldom Ask, Never Tell: Labor and Discourse in Appalachia

By Anita Puckett | Go to book overview

5 NONIMPERATIVE REQUESTING PRACTICES: "TAKIN CARE Of," "TRADIN," AND "MAKIN A DEAL"

"Can I hep ya?"

I took my Volkswagen beetle to a car repair establishment in another part of the county. After discussion of the problem, the mechanic said, "We'll take care of you." [notes 10/87]

As I was making my usual visits to local stores and the center one summer day, I noted that Don was not at Marylin's [his wife's] store. Becky told me he was out "tradin" for a truck. We subsequently discussed how car "tradin" was better done by men--they got a better deal with the dealerships. [notes 8/86]

A local man who sells satellite dish equipment made an oral agreement with another man in the area for several thousand dollars' worth of products. The purchaser made only a down payment and refused to pay the rest. The seller sought the purchaser out and they allegedly exchanged heated words. The seller reportedly said to Bill, "We made a deal--he's goin to pay one way or the other." [notes 11/86]

ASH CREEK'S NONIMPERATIVE OPTIONAL, "VOLUNTEERIN," and direct "askin" forms are usually embedded within speaking practices that vary from complex but open- ended forms of talk such as "just talkin" to more circumscribed, readily recognizable verbal exchanges such as "tradin." These practices reconstitute the indexical significations of these nonimperative requesting patterns in themselves by constraining and shaping their meanings in the emergent discursive, grammatical, and social interactional context interlocutors create. They therefore function pragmatically to effect transparent economic transactions, maintain or create basic political-economic relations among interlocutors, and, in many cases, reproduce structures of institutionalized power. 1 They also function metapragmatically to

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