MAKING MEANING EXERCISE 8:

Learning to Argue...


From Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,
Chapter 14

  I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes and earls and such, and how gaudy they dressed, and how much style they put on, and called each other your majesty, and your grace, and your lordship, and so on, 'stead of mister; and Jim's eyes bugged out, and he was interested. He says:
  "I didn' know dey was so many un um. I hain't hearn 'bout none un um, skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts dem kings dat's in a pack er k'yards. . . .

  I told about Louis Sixteenth that got his head cut off in France long time ago; and about his little boy the dolphin, that would a been a king, but they took and shut him up in jail, and some say he died there.
  "Po' little chap."
  "But some says he got out and got away, and come to America."
  "Dat's good! But he'll be pooty lonesome -- dey ain' no kings here, is dey, Huck?"
  "No."
 "Den he cain't git no situation. What he gwyne to do?"
  "Well, I don't know. Some of them gets on the police, and some of them learns people how to talk French."
  "Why, Huck, doan' de French people talk de same way we does?"
  "No, Jim; you couldn't understand a word they said -- not a single word."
  "Well, now, I be ding-busted! How do dat come?"
  "I don't know; but it's so. I got some of their jabber out of a book. S'pose a man was to come to you and say Polly-voo-franzy -- what would you think?"
  "I wouldn' think nuff'n; I'd take en bust him over de head -- dat is, if he warn't white. I wouldn't 'low no nigger to call me dat."
  "Shucks, it ain't calling you anything. It's only saying, do you know how to talk French?"
  "Well, den, why couldn't he say it?"
  "Why, he is a-saying it. That's a Frenchman's way of saying it."
  "Well, it's a blame ridicklous way, en I doan' want to hear no mo' 'bout it. Dey ain' no sense in it."
  "Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we do?"
  "No, a cat don't."
  "Well, does a cow?"
  "No, a cow don't, nuther."
  "Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk like a cat?"
  "No, dey don't."
  "It's natural and right for 'em to talk different from each other, ain't it?"
  "Course."
  "And ain't it natural and right for a cat and a cow to talk different from us?"
  "Why, mos' sholy it is."
  "Well, then, why ain't it natural and right for a Frenchman to talk different from us? You answer me that."
  "Is a cat a man, Huck?"
  "No."
  "Well, den, dey ain't no sense in a cat talkin' like a man. Is a cow a man? -- er is a cow a cat?"
  "No, she ain't either of them."
  "Well, den, she ain't got no business to talk like either one er the yuther of 'em. Is a Frenchman a man?"
  "Yes."
  "Well, den! Dad blame it, why doan' he talk like a man? You answer me dat!"
  I see it warn't no use wasting words -- you can't learn a nigger to argue. So I quit.

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