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Marissa Lingen

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Dialect nerding with Mris [Jan. 29th, 2014|09:42 am]
Marissa Lingen
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Okay, another dialect question. Haven’t done one in awhile. Does your home dialect contain the phrase “a goin’ concern,” usually applied to small children? And if not, would you still have some sense of what “that child is a goin’ concern” might mean if someone else used it, or would you be completely in the dark?

(Sometimes when I’m talking to my grandmother things come out of my mouth that I never, ever say to my friends, and then I stop and realize that I have no idea if I don’t say them because it’s an old-fashioned phrase we just don’t really use or if I don’t say them because my friends would find me incomprehensible. And this is what the internet is for! Someone might have told you it was for porn. Someone nicer might have told you it was for kitten pictures. They were wrong, or rather, they were right but in the broader sense. It is for assuaging random curiosity. And I do have a most ‘satiable curtiosity.)

Also: if you are a person who says “a goin’ concern,” at what age does a person stop being a goin’ concern? Because I am now a little worried.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


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[User Picture]From: elsmi
2014-01-29 05:45 pm (UTC)
I can apply that phrase to businesses, but applied to children I haven't the foggiest idea what it would mean. (Northern California dialect.)
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[User Picture]From: jry
2014-01-29 06:58 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: klwilliams
2014-01-29 05:51 pm (UTC)
I've never used it, but I would get what it meant if I heard it.

Many years ago, when Terry Bisson and I were scouting locations for the SF in SF reading series, he asked one of the people in a bookstore a question. I don't remember exactly what the phrasing was, but it was very Southern. (He's from Kentucky, I believe.) I understood it, because my family is from Texas, but the woman looked blank until he translated. I thought it was va ery interesting exchange.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-01-29 05:52 pm (UTC)
I love dialect nerding like that.
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[User Picture]From: tewok
2014-01-29 05:54 pm (UTC)
I've never heard it and don't know what it means. (Maryland/DC)
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[User Picture]From: nancylebov
2014-01-29 06:46 pm (UTC)
Same for me. Delaware/Philadelphia.
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From: fmsv
2014-01-29 06:03 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've ever heard that phrase applied to any small children before this. I'd think of applying it to a business, without the apostrophe. (Native Minnesotan)
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[User Picture]From: genevra
2014-01-30 04:48 pm (UTC)
Same here, also Native Minnesotan.
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From: ellen_fremedon
2014-01-29 06:32 pm (UTC)
I'm from Northeast Iowa, and I would apply that phrase to businesses or events, but not to people.
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2014-01-29 06:39 pm (UTC)
Urban Midwesterner all the way (Chicago and Minneapolis), and I've never heard the phrase except as applied to businesses.
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[User Picture]From: buymeaclue
2014-01-29 06:43 pm (UTC)
I don't use it but I (believe that I) understand the meaning.

(I distinctly remember railing against the "needs verbed" construction when I was in college in rural Illinois, but guess what construction I now use on a regular basis and find soothing to see/hear crop up other folks...)
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From: swan_tower
2014-01-29 06:49 pm (UTC)
Like others, I use "a going concern" for businesses and events and such, but not children. I could guess at its meaning in the context of a kid, but I wouldn't be sure. (Knowing a more specific context would help.)
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[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2014-01-29 07:05 pm (UTC)
Usual business blah. I would have no idea what it meant when applied to a kid.
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[User Picture]From: sraun
2014-01-29 07:51 pm (UTC)
I'm in the 'apply it to business' camp. Born in Ohio, moved to Duluth to start 1st grade, lived in MN & the UP since then.
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[User Picture]From: tiger_spot
2014-01-29 08:05 pm (UTC)
I know the business meaning (currently doing well, or at least well enough that it can be expected to continue going for the indefinite future) but I would have no idea what that meant as applied to a small child. If it was in a positive, approving tone of voice I would guess it meant something like the business meaning, like growing up healthily, an active child, developmentally on track or slightly ahead, something like that. But I don't know if that's what someone using it would mean.
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[User Picture]From: timprov
2014-01-29 08:26 pm (UTC)
at what age does a person stop being a goin’ concern?

In at least one case, apparently 94.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-01-29 08:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, oh.
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[User Picture]From: rushthatspeaks
2014-01-29 08:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, no idea what that means applied to children. Business, sure.
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[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2014-01-29 08:32 pm (UTC)
I have only heard it applied to a business or something along those lines. A growing or thriving business, so I could extrapolate to a child. . .but Constance Seeger's son was still a going concern long after he stopped outgrowing his clothes.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-01-29 08:34 pm (UTC)
Well, and in fact the way I was using it, the way my family tends to use it at least, is not at all about growth spurts and a great deal more about spark/personality/engagement with ideas.
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[User Picture]From: juliansinger
2014-01-29 09:32 pm (UTC)
I'm from Boston area (and a little Maryland), and am among the legions who haven't heard it in that context, but can guess at the meaning (apparently correctly).
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