I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. In the following paragraph, the last sentence is written in slang:

"Buckwheat, I dun tol’ yo’ pappy, I ain’t takin’ care uh nun ob hiz odder chil’ren!"

As I can understand it is "Buckwheat, I don't tell your dad, I am not taking care of none of his other children!"

Am I right? If so, what does it mean?

I’d forgotten about that macabre Little Rascals classic. The gang plays hooky from school and ends up on a fishing trawl sent out to catch a shark that’s been terrorizing the waterfront. Since Pete the Pup has eaten the bait, they smear little Hominy in cod-liver oil, prick his finger, and hook his belt loop to the end of a fishing rod, lower him into the water, and use him as shark chum. While underwater he has to suck the air out of a school of puffer fish to keep from drowning. An electric eel repeatedly zaps him in the groin. The episode ends with a giant octopus showing its appreciation for the Little Rascals, ridding the sea of the fanged menace (turns out Alfalfa’s singing voice is so shrill he can carry a shark-repellant note underwater) by spraying the boys in black ink.When the dinge-colored bunch return home to a jetty full of concerned parents, Hominy and Buckwheat’s doo-ragged mammy blurts out, “Buckwheat, I dun tol’ yo’ pappy, I ain’t takin’ care uh nun ob hiz odder chil’ren!

1 Answer 1


You've misunderstood "dun" and hence the tense of the verb.

"dun tol'" means "done told", which is not standard English grammar but is in some dialects a way of saying "told". See What is the meaning of 'my mama done told me'? on the English Language Learners SE site, as well as on other forums. So the whole phrase could be rewritten in more standard English as:

“Buckwheat, I told your father, I'm not taking care of any of his other children!”

  • 2
    Isn’t ’dun told’ an example of vernacular grammar rather than merely ‘ungrammatical’? The Wikipedia article on African American English sets out the tense forms, and the use of ‘done’ before the verb in place of an ‘-ed’ ending is a standard grammatical form within that variety of English. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_Vernacular_English
    – Spagirl
    Dec 21, 2022 at 10:07
  • 1
    I wasn't going to get into such details, as the OP is probably not a native English speaker and things like "done told" wouldn't be taught in any ESL course or book. But I've now edited for accuracy.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 21, 2022 at 14:29

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