Seldom Ask, Never Tell: Labor and Discourse in Appalachia

By Anita Puckett | Go to book overview

4
"VOLUNTEERINS," DIRECT "ASKINS," AND OPTIONAL USES OF NONIMPERATIVE REQUESTING DISCOURSE

"You shouldn't have to ask for that."

I am talking with a temporary staff person at the Environmental Center about differences in the ways local people speak. The staff person mentions going to a local mom-and-pop store and asking for something only to have the clerk respond "I don't care to." The clerk's positive intonation patterns confused the negative meaning the staff person wanted to assign to the utterance, leading him to question what the phrase actually means. [notes 10/85]

I mention to Debbie that I need to mow the grass at the house I am renting but that the landlord does not have a mower for me to use. She immediately "volunteers" her husband's mower if I come over and pick it up. I do, but when I return it, I find myself "shamed" by her praise over how much I had mowed in so short a time--a clear exaggeration. I do not borrow the mower again. [notes 6/86)

An Ash Creek woman's son has been targeted as a young man with artistic talent by a local teacher. She tells his mother that she "wants" him to apply to an art school in Pittsburgh. His mother mention's the teacher's conversation to me. I respond with enthusiastic endorsement and suggest that she obtain some brochures and other information about the school. The mother quickly responds negatively saying that she can't tell him what to do; he has to make up his own mind about attending. [notes 10/87]

-67-

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