Submitted by gretchen  •  March 16, 2010

mines

I hear people make the word “mine” plural as in, “The book is mines.” This drives me crazy! Has anyone else had this experience and where did this word come from? I have been teaching for over 20 years and it seems to have surfaced in the last 6-8 years or so. Is it just people being lazy?

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The English language has many dialects and slangs all over the world. 'Mines' instead of 'mine', and 'axe' instead of 'ask', can be heard from rural parts of England, Scotland and Ireland, to Canada, Australia and the U.S. It has nothing to do with the colour of a person's skin. For example, 99% of White and Black Americans pronounce 'clique' to rhyme with 'click' instead of the proper way which sounds like 'cleek'. Does that make 99% of Americans lazy?

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nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10883450

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In North-East England in my youth it was quite common to hear "yous", and it was used in constructions such as:

"yous lot, you don't know you're born" [you young people, you're living in much easier times, with far fewer hardships and much greater opportunities, than was the common experience when I was young]

"yous over there, listen to this ...."

and

"I divvent agree with yous" [I don't agree with you {two/three/four etc.} people]

Whether it is still common there, I don't know, as my visits to NE England are rare.

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"The possessive pronoun mine, which becomes mines in AAVE, is also used quite frequently through AAVE as in The videogame is mines or The computer is mines."

grin.com/en/e-book/196234/african-american-vernacular-english-a-new-dialect-of-the-english-language

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This word "mine(s)" has nothing to do with anyone's background. So people racist comment should not be in this conversation. I am a black women and mother and this word mines is in all of our vocabulary for instance "Be mine Valentines".My son teacher which is Caucasian seens Vocabulary words home ever week and Mine was one of them so im teaching him how to use the word in a sentence correctly. Its a word that can be use in many different ways and people and I do mean all people use this word no matter there background. We as people use the word "mine" in some way if it was in joy or in a disagreement.

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@Bengo - sorry to have prejudged you, and by your example, I assume you're Scottish. I am also Scottish and have the misfortune to be an RP speaker, which is a bit like being a foreigner in my own country, but unfortunately I can't put on a Scottish accent for the life of me.

I'm not convinced about the laziness argument; I think many people in Britain have two Englishes, a dialect version and "speaking proper" (very British expression) for wider communication. Horses for courses, you might say. And standard English itself was once just a West Midlands dialect (not modern West Midlands of course).

Dialects and accents are, after all, an important part of someone's identity (a part of my national identity I'm unfortunately missing). They are also part of our heritage and it is well known that the use of many traditional dialects is decreasing. Personally, I find that rather sad. Yes, there may be times when it might be better to use a more standard English, especially in writing, but I cannot see that standard English has any superiority over dialects. Linguists seem to recognise that most (if not all) languages and dialects are equally complex, and that - "Research clearly supports the position that variation in language is a natural reflection of cultural and community differences (Labov, 1972)." I think the article that I got that from, on guidelines for teaching a standard dialect sensitively, puts it rather better than I can.

http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/christ01.html

And lastly, personally I see this website as a place for discussing the fascinating world of language, not for upholding any perceived standards, although I'm no doubt in a minority - I'm just not into this right and wrong thing. In any case, some of the so-called rules put forward here, I find somewhat dubious, not to say spurious. :)

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LOL at the ass that used "ghetto" to refer to a person who uses the word "mines." Ghetto is a noun and not an adjective. Not to sure why you would comment on someone's grammar when yours is not up to par. But yes, using MINES drives me crazy! Mine is the correct word to show possession.

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@Warsaw Will: err....hmmmm..... I AM British! Ref "... it's those of use who 'speak proper' who stand out as the oddities. If everyone around you is speaking in dialect, then it's that dialect which is the main 'communication system'. " I only said it's lazy not to try. I live and work with and around a host of different dialects and of course can understand most of the time. And it does add colour to communication! But to abandon language to dialect without attempts to keep a standard (such as this website!) would quickly result in the Tower of Babel situation. An I daint wanna see tha'rappen. And I have noticed this: I may have to ask someone with a stong dialect and accent to repeat what they say or explain further if I don't understand - but using correct English back to them, they rarely have to ask me!

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In this case: "What's your favorite song? That's one of mines"; isnt the 'mines' right? I don't see another form to say this sentence without the 'mines'.

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I am not in complete agreement about the African American connection. I don't recall hearing it until recently - in the past 6 years. You see, I believe it is also a natural evolution for second language learners. I heard it first from some African American students, when I began teaching, but more from the Hispanic students. Then I began teaching in a private school where there were the majority of students came from second language learner homes. Mines was used often. This second teaching experience was African American-less, meaning there were none. So I am thinking it is an outgrowth of second language learners. And hey, I've heard "ax" or "aks"since child hood. I just thought it came from not being able to say asks very well. As a teacher, I am on a gentle mission to help my students be prepared for the correct usage: "mine", as well as not using double negatives: "I ain't got no...". I know it is dialectical, but still, right?

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It's quite common in Scottish dialect - 'Hands off, it's mine's', especially I think with children. And it does have a certain logic, as JJMBallantyne points out. Another one in the west of Scotland is yous, not as a possessive, but as a plural form of (the already plural) you - 'I'll see yous all later'.

@bengo - I wouldn't come to Britain if I were you: every city has its own dialect. And in peaktime TV soap operas, you'll often hear expressions like 'Well, it wasn't me what done it' or 'I ain't see him nowhere' - features common in some London dialects -'what' instead of 'who' or 'which', past participle ('done') instead of preterite ('did'), double negatives. It may not be standard English, but it's quite comprehensible to the rest of us. And it is the standard English in many communities - it's those of use who 'speak proper' who stand out as the oddities. If everyone around you is speaking in dialect, then it's that dialect which is the main 'communication system'. Why on Earth should be people who speak in dialect, who might never have to use more formal English in their daily lives, be considered lazy?

A joke from black stand-up comedian Reginald D Hunter, who's from Georgia, but lives in Britain. Hunter speaks perfect standard English, but does most of his act in a Southern drawl.

British woman: What do you know about Tommy Cooper? (A British comedian)
Hunter: He dead!
British woman: I must be terribly British and correct your grammar; I think it's 'he died'.
Hunter: At first he died, and now he dead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU7L3D8Ndqo

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It seems to be a combination of all of the above. To use correct English and want to see others use correct English is NOT elitist. Any communication system needs to have both transmitter and receiver agree a set of protocols and rules so that the message intended gets across 100%. While any language is a 'living' dynamic system, there has to be strong pressure for conformity otherwise the whole system will break down. Any language has a history; this included quirks, exceptions and oddities. Tough! We just have to learn them, to accept the same protocols - anything else is laziness. If the question is ASKED ("Should ther be an 's' on the end of 'mine'?"), the protocol says 'NO!" If on knowing that, the asker continues to use the 's', that is clearly laziness or peer pressure. Like many other aspects of Western society, there has been a great dumbing down, and it's 'cool' (I wish we could stop using THAT word!!!) to seem street-wise, un-educated, anti-elitist etc. I for one would love to see that trend reversed, especially in music, but I don't think it will happen.

So far as using 'ax' instead of 'ask' is concerned, I have a feeling that physical differences in those of African descent make it more difficult to say the ... sk dipthong, hence ask is 'ax' task is 'tax' , mask is 'max' etc. There is also a difficulty with 'l' and 'r' - I often have to ask my African friends to repeat when they use words with these letters, to make sure I'm getting the message! Physical differences can be more difficult to over come, but it is possible (I know some Africans with very clear diction), and to not try is laziness. Wherever we are from, whatever our background, let's all do our bit to keep up standards - it's part of the route to world understanding. But of course, if you don't speak English - IT'S TIME YOU LEARNED!!!

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It's clearly a regionalism/dialect form. It actually makes some sense too. It seems to simply follow the pattern of all the other personal possessive pronouns: yours, his, hers, its, ours and theirs.

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I am amazed that there is this lengthy discussion on the use of "mines." It started to bother me a few years ago when African-American colleagues/co-workers used it so blithely and often. Good to know it bothers others also. I teach English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to foreign adults, and I would hate to have them learn that version of "mine" or "my." In my experience, it is mostly non-college educated African-Americans who use it. My college and grad school buddies who happen to be black NEVER use "mines," at least not when I have been present. "Ax" instead of "ask" is also annoying, but "mines" takes the cake. And yes, we have too much time on our hands.

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you bitches have too much damn time on your hands.. hows that for proper english? you understood it, didnt ya? just like the word mines..

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I think the problem is not that African Americans are trying to change the language, as you say, Sam, but that African Americans have been speaking a valid version of English all along that is yet to be recognized as correct by privileged, white English speakers.

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I teach college in Atlanta and I swear my students think it is correct English. They even use it in their papers. I want to correct them so badly but I am white and I do not want to offend anyone - also I am not an English instructor. I have yet to encounter a white student that uses the word mines, it is always African American students. The problem is I am starting to see well educated African Americans use it and its just plain wrong, and makes them sounds stupid. Why are African Americans always trying to change the language i.e. "ax instead of "ask" it makes them look SO STUPID, and they are ok with it. Just speak freaking English people!

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So, kipper, you're saying that it's not a race issue, but and education issue. That would exempt you from any accusation of racism (as would your being black because black people, of course, cannot be racist), but you are still an elitist.

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I'm black, I go to an HBCU and many of my peers use the word "mines" I do not. It is improper english and it is pure laziness. Just like saying "we was, we be, etc." Yes, black people down here in the south use it often, but white people do too. it's not an ethnicity issue, it's an education issue.

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Kim, I disagree. Laziness is not a factor here; dialect is. If you grow up in a home or neighborhood where "ask" is used instead of "ax," then that's what you'll likely say. It does reveal a level of education to a degree, but it's not an indicator of laziness. Imagine if someone told you that you sounded uneducated saying "ask." It would not be easy to switch, and it would sound unnatural for you to do so. People DO switch, but not without effort.

Regarding "mines": I HATE it! However, it does follow a pattern: yourS, herS, ourS, theirS, itS. ("His" doesn't fit because it already ends in -s.) So the first-person "mine" is actually an exception, and people are regularizing it to match the other corresponding forms. I work in a very high-poverty neighborhood where "mines" is the norm, and it's really hard to change it. People here aren't trying to sound ghetto. It is the ghetto. I figure "mines" is actually the more logical of the two forms and will win out in the end, but not after piercing my ears each time I hear it.

Kim, if you write off people who sound different from you, you're limiting yourself. People often try very hard to change their speech but it's difficult. I don't think you understand what it is like to speak a different dialect that is considered lower-class (and yes, there are some posers out there) because it takes work to change, and even then it doesn't always happen 100% of the time.

I agree that "ax" and "mines" will stigmatize people and mark them as uneducated, but the change doesn't reveal laziness or low intelligence. It reveals where people came from and where they live.

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Sarah you can call me anything you want (not original poster BTW), but saying mines is just plain wrong! If you know it is wrong and still use it, that IS lazy.

Saying axe instead of ask is also lazy. Lazy speach makes you sound stupid even if you are not. People have to realise that. How you speak is as important to other people's impressions of you as is the way you look. You can be wearing the finest most expensive clothes, but if you say mines or axe to me, I will never take you seriously.

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"This book is mines", is childish. It seems that many younger people in an attempt to appear "cool" or "gangsterish" deliberately speak in a way that makes them seem uneducated. Unfortunately, such English stigmatises the speaker and makes them sound...somewhat less than intelligent.

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I've noticed in the southern african american dialect, mainly in middle to lower class adults and teens. Not trying to generalize, just making an observation.

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To call someone lazy for saying 'mines' gives me the right to call you a B!TCH. If one so chooses to say it that way let them be!

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That's his, that's hers, and this is mines - never come across it myself, but I guess you can understand it in L2 learners and children... the fact that it is reported in native adult use is perhaps due to dialect?

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That's his, that's hers, and this is mines - never come across it myself, but I guess you can understand in in L2 learners and children... the fact that is reported in native adult use is perhaps due to dialect?

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This also drives me crazy. Usually I hear it from people that are more "ghetto". One of my co-workers uses "mines" often. Later in the day I will ask him why.

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I believe you may hear much more frequently in the southern U.S. Most often when I hear it, the individual is using it in a possessive sense.

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According to the OED, it's "regional (chiefly Scottish)".

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My 5 year old daughter used to say "mines". We thought it was funny so we also started using "mines" sometimes. My sister made her a bag that said "mines". Maybe it's not just my daughter; perhaps this is a common mistake by toddlers, and the adults started using it because they thought it was funny.

For toddlers, perhaps the "s" is actually a possessive, as in "mine's". At around that age, claiming their possessions is a big preoccupation, so they might feel that "mine" is not good enough, so they feel the need to add the possessive "s" for the maximum impact.

That's my theory.

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