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Linguistics "Understanding African-American English"

Discussion in 'Social Sciences & Humanities' started by Spang, Jul 11, 2012.

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  1. led.boots

    led.boots Guest

    :popcorn: Ah'll jes' set here 'n lessen to y'all folks jabber on.
  2. kazyeeqen

    kazyeeqen Superb Owl

    Idaho, USA
    I don't think any amount of justification by white people that black people's dialects are 'okay' is going to convince black people that they don't need to learn standard English to get a good job. I think black people probably understand pretty well the disadvantages they face in the workplace.

    Seems more like information that is valuable to the white folks with all the prejudices.

    I didn't know about the 'habitual be' either, that's fascinating. I always think it's interesting when a language has an 'extra' like that that simplifies some concept. If I wanted to say that someone usually does something I would have to say that they usually do it, which is a lot bulkier.
    • Like Like x 5
  3. led.boots

    led.boots Guest

    People of any color with US southern accents (that i was attempting to type ^^) are often thought of as stupid hicks. My 3 nephews were raised in Georgia, and one of them has nearly lost his accent because he thought it was going to be a detriment to his career. I like different accents.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Indian Summer

    Indian Summer Administrator Owner

    Well, as much as I hate turning into a human question mark every time I try to watch a non-subtitled movie featuring heavy dialects or accents I don't understand (mainly English ones), or not being able to communicate well with speakers of those dialects/accents, I feel like I nevertheless need to speak up for dialects.

    As a dialect speaker myself, and from a small country with a plethora of many dialects and two written standard languages, one based on a subset of dialects, the other influenced by Danish and the language of the snobbish and decadent urban elite of the capital, I will say dialects are a blessing. It's a good way to differentiate oneself from those suspect capital-dwellers. It's a better, purer form of Norwegian, with a clearer family connection to Old Norwegian and Norse.

    That said, we still manage fine to understand each other, and there is no real social stigma associated with any dialect.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Scorpius

    Scorpius The Lizard Queen

    Is it a dialect though? I've met plenty of black people in the U.S. who don't speak this way and get along fine.

    There has been debate in this country for at least the past decade whether or not it would be appropritae to teach Ebonics in classrooms. I'm pretty sure it's not taught as an acceptable form of the language, so why use it? Other minority populations in the U.S. maintain beautiful accents and their cultural identity without mauling the American English language when communicating. Why can't others do the same?
  6. Spang

    Spang Foot Fetisher

  7. mlp

    mlp Guest

    I have always enjoyed accents, dialects, regional idioms, etc. - they are an important part of what gives language its richness and flavor.

    Germany has many regional dialects, and the differences between some of them are so substantial that they are almost different languages. Take for example the phrase "I speak":

    In high German (the written language, used in schools and by *educated* people, no matter where they may have grown up): "Ich spreche...."

    In low German (the dialect of much of the north): "Ik prohte...."

    In Schwaebisch (the dialect of the region where I was born): "I schwaetz..." (the "I" being a short one in pronunciation).

    Even though I left Germany at the age of five, studied German literature as an undergrad (i.e., high German), when I meet a German, even though I speak High German, there's enough Schwaebisch influence (mostly cadence) left in my speech after more than five decades that s/he can immediately identify the area of Germany from which I originated. They always think it's cute.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. beancounter

    beancounter The Fire That Burns Within

    Are you serious, or are you just trying to cause trouble?

    How typical...trying to divert the issue and win the conversation by labeling me as a racist.

    That tactic has been done a million times before on VB. Thought it might be different here. Why don't you compare me to the Nazi's too, while you're at it?

    No, it was an analogy....
  9. Spang

    Spang Foot Fetisher

    I'm serious.

    There are many dialects of the English language spanning many races.

    I was merely looking for clarification.

    All the words before these words were unnecessary, quite frankly.
  10. cornsail

    cornsail Renowned Member

    I don't understand how this applies to the discussion. For one thing, not all people who speak different dialects are "losers" (i.e. some are financially successful if that's the standard you're going by). Also, recognizing that some uses of language are due to dialectical difference rather than slang or stupidity is not at all equatable to giving speakers of other dialects a trophies as far as I can tell.
  11. beancounter

    beancounter The Fire That Burns Within

    It was an analogy...and I was specifically referring to Ebonics.
  12. cornsail

    cornsail Renowned Member

    Yes, it seems to fit the term.

    "A dialect is distinguished by its vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation (phonology, including prosody). Where a distinction can be made only in terms of pronunciation, the term accent is appropriate, not dialect." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialect)

    AAVE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_American_English) has different grammatical rules from English, but they are followed just as consistently as "standard English" speakers follow their grammatical rules.

    Not all American blacks speak AAVE and some American whites speak it, so it's not strictly speaking a racial dialect... It just tends to be divided by racial lines because when groups of people become separated differences in language start to emerge and black Americans were forcibly segregated from white Americans for a long time.

    "Acceptable" to who? People can and will speak how they like. If you grew up with a certain dialect in a community who spoke it, with friends and family who spoke it would you not also speak it? That doesn't mean you can't learn to speak differently in different contexts, of course, in order to fit in with different crowds... As has been suggested in the thread this would probably be advantageous and thus a good idea.

    There is no "mauling the English language" going on. People just tend to learn the language/dialect native to their community. There are lots of English dialects and many of them have nothing to do with race.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. cornsail

    cornsail Renowned Member

    Okay then: not all people who speak the African American Vernacular English (or 'Ebonics') dialect are "losers" (i.e. some are financially successful if that's the standard you're going by). And yes I understand it wasn't meant literally, but I don't think the analogy fits.
  14. mlp

    mlp Guest

    Boston Brahmins "maul" the English language as much as any AAVE speaker, yet I have never heard an outcry over that. What's acceptable and what's not in terms of language/dialect reflects a lot of class and racial assumptions and standing.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. beancounter

    beancounter The Fire That Burns Within

    If you understood the analogy, why did you ask the question?

    Nonetheless, I think you're getting caught up in semantics. The fundamental premise of the analogy is simply that a greater number of them will do better in life if they learn standard English. Why is that so hard to accept?

    Furthermore "to lose" and loser" have different connotations in different context. Why did you choose to assume the worst possible interpretation?
  16. Scorpius

    Scorpius The Lizard Queen

    That's accent versus "dialect". No special grammar bending rules required.
  17. cornsail

    cornsail Renowned Member

    I'm not sure what question you're referring to. I understood that it was an analogy, I just don't think it was a fitting one.

    I've never disagreed with that claim, so I don't know why you think it's hard for me to accept it.

    I wasn't aware I chose the worst possible interpretation. I was just saying not all people who speak AAVE are 'losers' no matter how you interpret the word. For example, some are financially successful, some are socially successful, etc.
  18. Scorpius

    Scorpius The Lizard Queen

    Probably because you're a white Nazi, duh.
  19. cornsail

    cornsail Renowned Member

    I'm not calling anyone racist, for the record.
  20. mlp

    mlp Guest

    So it's O.K. to delete entire letters and sometimes syllables out of words (or, in the case of New Yorkers and others, add letters or syllables), but not O.K. to mess with grammar?

    Seems a bit arbitrary to me.
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