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AFRICAN- AMERICAN LANGUAGE SEE ALSO “AFRICAN-AMERICAN HUMOR”. by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Attacks on Oakland Unified School District’s Ebonics.

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  2. Attacks on Oakland Unified School District’s Ebonics • “No right or wrong expressions, no consistent spellings or pronunciations and no discernible rules.” –William Raspberry (Washington Post 12/26/96) • “A ‘language’ for second-class life” –Ellen Goodman (Boston Globe 12/27/96) • “legitimizing gibberish” –Mary McGrory “It is just as systematic as Standard English, though it differs from Standard English in significant ways.” (Smith & Wilhelm 50, 147-149) 9

  3. E. Schuster shows how non-standard dialects are systematic. • Have different verb forms (“He brung it to me.”) • Have double negatives & comparatives (“He don’t know nothin’.”) • Have different subject-verb agreement (“She go to the store.”) • Have different pronoun conventions (“Joe, he can really play.”) • Use adjectives in adverbial contexts (“He did good.”) • Have non-standard words (ain’t, anyways, these here…) (Smith & Wilhelm 52) 9

  4. AAVE: AFRICAN AMERICAN VERNACULAR ENGLISH • During the slave trade, shippers were careful to separate African slaves who spoke the same language as they loaded them onto ships, so that the language they developed was an English based pidgin (business language) which became a creole language. • Ironically, black wet nurses did much of the raising of aristocratic white babies, so many Black features can be seen also in “white” Southern dialects. • African-American Vernacular English (and much of Southern “white” English) has the following features: 9

  5. this, that, these, those, them, there /d/ • south, mouth /f/ • during, more, Paris, star /r-less/ • help, will /l-less/ • hood, bed, test, wasp (loss of final consonant) 9

  6. thing, ring, sing /ey/ • r-less so that such pairs as guard-God, nor-gnaw, sore-saw, poor-Poe, fort-fought, and court-caught are not distinguished. • police, Detroit (front-shifted stress) • nice, boy (simplified vowels) • invariable “be” (durative) • zero copula (non-durative, compare Spanish “ser” and “estar”) 9

  7. CALLING SOMEONE OUT OF THEIR NAME • In her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou tells about Mrs. Cullinan “calling her out of her name.” • Rather than calling her “Margaret,” she called her “Mary.” • Miss Glory says that she too had been “called out of her name.” Her name used to be Hallelujia, but her mistress called her “Glory,” and it stuck. (Nilsen & Nilsen 15-16) 9

  8. THE N-WORD • According to Randall Kennedy, The n-word is perhaps the most volatile, derogatory, powerful and hurtful ethnic slur in the English language. • However, “the use of nigger by black rappers and comedians has given the term a new currency and enhanced cachet such that many young whites yearn to use the term like the blacks whom they see as heroes and trendsetters.” (Kennedy 45) 9

  9. !HIP HOP LANGUAGE • What is it? • What’s happenin? • What’s up? • Snoop Dog’s “-izzle” words as in “televizzle,” “Americizzle,” and “in a minitizzle” • Bro • Chillin • gangsta rap (or G-rap) 9

  10. !!MORE HIP HOP LANGUAGE • to school (teach) someone • a trick (sexually manipulative female) • to spit (talk to a female) • props (proper respect), the opposite of “to dis(respect)” someone • Sweet! • One = One Love = Good Bye! • I gotta bounce (leave the premises) 9

  11. !!!Web Site: The Whitest Kids: www.whitestkids.com 9

  12. References # 1: Baldwin, James. “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me What It Is.” in Living Language. Ed. Alleen Pace Nilsen. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1999, 135-139. Campbell, Kermit. Getting Our Groove On. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2005. Clark, Virginia, Paul Eschholz, and Alfred Rosa. Language: Readings in Language and Culture, 6th Edition. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. Crystal, David. “Pidgins and Creoles” (Clark, 321-327) DeBose, Charles. The Sociology of African American Language. New York, NY: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2005. 9

  13. References # 2: Elgin, Suzette Haden. “Notes on the Ebonics Controversy.” in Living Language. Ed. Alleen Pace Nilsen. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1999, 112-117. Eschholz, Paul, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. “The Power of the Mass Media.” Language Awareness: Readings for College Writers, Ninth Edition. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005, 349-420. Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman and Nina Hyams. An Introduction to Language. New York, NY: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007. Gordon, Dexter B. “Humor in African American Discourse: Speaking of Oppression.” Journal of Black Studies 29.2 (1998): 254-276. Kennedy, Randall. Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 2002. 9

  14. References # 3: King, Martin Luther, Jr. “I Have a Dream” (Eschholz 244-250). Kitwana, Bakari. The HipHop Generation. New York, NY: BasicCivitas Books, 2002. Lanehart, Sonja L. Sociocultural and Historical Contexts of African American English. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins, 2001. McKissack, Frederick L. “Cyberghetto: Blacks Are Falling Through the Net” (Eschholz 528-534). Mey, Jacob L. Pragmatics: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001. 9

  15. References # 4: Nilsen, Alleen Pace. Living Language. Needham Heights, MA, 1999. Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. http://www.greenwood.com/catalog/OXHUMOR.aspx Schiffrin, Deborah. Approaches to Discourse. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1994. Schuster, E. Breaking the Rules: Liberating Writers through Innovative Grammar Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003. Smith, Michael W., and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. Getting It Right: Fresh Approaches to Teraching Grammar, Usage, and Correctness. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2007. Smitherman, Geneva “`It Bees Dat Way Sometime’: Sounds and Structure of Present-Day Black English” (Clark, 328-354). Staples, Brent. “Black Men and Public Spaces” (Eschholz 255-257). Vaid, Urvashi. “Separate and Unequal” (Eschholz 251-254). 9

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