Syntax: Lil Jon, Grammaticaliser | The Economist

A debased thing can also signify nothing, and here we get to the swear-words: I don’t give a rat’s ass, He doesn’t know shit from Shinola, I don’t give a fuck.  If these are common enough, they can start the road to full grammaticalisation, and shit is clearly a candidate here. We can say of a lazy colleague He isn’t gonna do shit.  In black American English, this would come out He ain’t gonna do shit. And Lil Jon’ proves that standalone shit has come to be a plain old negative-polarity item by singing (again and again and again) …

via Syntax: Lil Jon, grammaticaliser | The Economist.

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