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Dec 04, 2008

"Where Do You Stay?" ("19 Miles a Second, So it's Reckoned")

Hanging out at the UMD homeless shelter, I once learned that the question, "where do you live?" is often phrased by African-Americans as "where do you stay?" 

I assumed that the differing word choice was primarily a function of economics: people with less-stable incomes are more likely to stay at some address for a while rather than to live some address for a long time. But I'm now starting to think that the expression finds its origin in something more temporally and geographically distant. A quick online search indicates that this phrasing is also typical in parts of Africa and India.

Regardless, I'm growing more fond of the expression.  Not only for my particularly peripatetic lifestyle, but for the wandering life we all seem to have whether or not we realize it.

Monty Python describe(s)* this nicely:

*can of worms, here: do you choose a singular or plural verb after Monty Python?  My understanding from listening to BBC radio is that the British often use a plural verb after a singular noun that describes a group of people.  "Manchester United are down three games".  But then again, they also say "Parliament is".  Hmmm.

08:41 PM in Me, Traveling, Words | Permalink


"Stay" in this sense is probably a feature of AAVE . I hear it very very often through work. I love it, too, I have to say. I'd be interested to see the etymology of it. Since AAVE shares so many characteristics of southern US dialects, I wonder if it's not AAVE-specific and rather just an overlap? I'm not sure how much sense I'm making at this moment, because I've just woken up.

Posted by: stew | Dec 5, 2008 7:38:10 AM

It would be more correct to say that Manchester United are 6 points back of Liverpool, but they have a game in hand.

Posted by: barry | Dec 5, 2008 9:38:45 AM