Tag Archives: Can’t

“Can’t never did anything…”

BACKGROUND:

A family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania follows the strict proverb of, “Can’t never did anything…” The proverb would be uttered any time someone would claim that there was something “I can’t do.” If someone expressed their inability to do something, the family would respond with, “Can’t never did anything…” The intention of the proverb had the same basic concept, that nothing will get accomplished by simply giving up. The expression behind it, however, would frequently change. In some instances, the response was expressed in a kind, encouraging tone with the intentions of lifting spirits. Other times, the response was expressed in a stern, denial of their claim that they can’t do something, with the intention of strictly¬†rejecting any approval of that answer.

MY THOUGHTS:

I find it very interesting how many contexts there are in which this saying can be used. My source described how the saying was typically used as a means of shaming someone for giving up easily. While this may have seemed like something that was beneficial to the recipient of this saying, I can’t help but feel like this was more of an unsympathetic way of saying, “Your best isn’t good enough”. The way in which this story was told to me (tone of voice and facial expressions) told me she felt the same way.