Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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SONGS OF THE BLACK CREOLES
negroes in the same sense in which it was employed long ago in France: etre apres faire quelque chose, to be after doing something—a locution found in Languedoc.1 The creole negro takes the word indicating a state of being and prefixes the pronoun:
Mo—Je suis—I am
To—Tu es—Thou art
Li—II est—He is
Nou—Nous sommes—We are
Vou—Vous etes—You are
Ye—lis sont—They are
malade—ill.
[ malades—ill.
To express an act in the course of accomplishment re­course is had to the pronoun joined to the preposition apres (ape) which is followed by the infinitive: Moi apres, i. e., Mo ape, which is contracted into mape, and so on with the rest:
Mape
Tape
Lope
Nape
rape
Yape
dinin.
the equivalent of
Jesuis
Tues II est
Nous sommes Vous etes Ussont
apres diner.
Nothing remains of the pronoun, except the sound of
the initial letter, and these people having no written
language, even the letter does not exist for them. When
the black slave heard his master speak of things in the past
tense it was the sound te which fell most frequently and
persistently into his ear: J'etais, tu etais, il etait, ils
etaient. Upon this te the negro seized as representing
or figuring the past, and joining it to the pronoun he
formed his imperfect indicative of the verb etre:
Afof-T'etais. Tote—Tu Stais. Lite—11 6tait. j/Vo«'£—Nous etions. Poute—Vous etiez. Yete—Ils etaiexxt.
1 I might add that it is a form with which the English language has been enriched by an Irish idiom.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III