According to Geneva Smitherman, in her book Talkin and Testifyin, standard English as we know it today flourished in the eighteenth century to fill the void left by the decline of Latin (186). African American Vernacular English, or Ebonics, also formed to meet a specific need. Contrary to popular belief, Ebonics rose out of 19th Century southern slave culture, not out of repeated use of “sloppy” speech. Slaves who were strictly oppressed by their masters were not allowed to peaceably assemble or meet with each other for any purpose. Such freedom, slave owners feared, could foster coercive ideas amongst their slaves. Slaves, therefore, needed a language that would allow them to communicate with each other in a clandestine manner. Ebonics rose to meet this need (Smitherman 19). Using Ebonics, slaves were able to communicate behind their masters’ backs and form a unity that was instrumental in the perseverance of African American culture through the unspeakable trials of slavery.
Language is the way people communicate with each other. It allows us/them to express their thoughts and impart information through writing or speech. However, this exchange is not necessarily always objective as words and their meaning can/may be tainted by the speaker’s intentions. In politics, language is not only a powerful tool to conceal the truth and influence the public’s opinion but also a weapon against their opponents.
(1) The use of natural dialect can be seen throughout the slave narrative interviews through words and phrases used that were common during the period of slavery, but are not used today. One example can be seen in the dialect used by former slave Mama Duck, “Battlin stick, like dis. You doan know what a battling stick is? Well, dis here is one.” Through incomplete sentences and unknown words the natural dialect of the time can be seen. Unfamiliar words such as shin-plasters, meaning a piece of paper currency or a promissory note regarded as having little or no value. Also, geechees, used to describe a class of Negroes who spoke Gullah. Many examples can be seen throughout the “Slave Narratives”
According to “Do you Speak Americans: Episode 1,” “African American middle men captured slaves that had different languages causing African Americans to form pidgin.” African Americans had to learn a new style in order to communicate with each other; this is an example of code-switching in earlier parts of history. Code-switching did not stop here, but continued into the new land. According to “Do you Speak American: Episode 4,” “Slaves had to pick up English from their owners; if they didn’t, then the slaves would have be beaten.” Slaves had to forget their African language and their pidgin in order to stay alive in America. Do you believe the intention was for them to forget their own language, or was the intention for them to adapt to American standards? Their intention was not to forget their own language, but to adapt to their new
On August 20th, 1619, nearly four centuries ago, the first Africans were brought to their foreign home, America, and the implementation of systematic oppression served to eradicate their identity had begun. The inhabitants of Africa, unconsciously traded in their cultural customs such as religion beliefs, knowledge, and language for the formalities of the Western world, leading to the oppression of African people. Language and diction being one of the core building blocks of society, has become a hidden weapon in the war of Racism, as a method to oppress those seen as an “other.” Through religion, mass media, and politics, diction has become a silent weapon used to attack the Black community. In order to adequately understand the negative implications of diction, the analysis of the origins of language is necessary.
The legislation had denied the slaves of any formal education and perhaps this is what contributed to their strong oral language tradition. Up to the early 1700’s the southern Black population never exceeded 15%, by the 18th century the population rose to 40%. (Wood, 1974).
It’s easy to imagine how this empowered enslaved African Americans to conspire against their oppressors. (Wood, 187) Gullah and other black dialects were also used by enslaved African Americans in the reverse, an excuse for not being able to understand their master. But slaves learned the “good” English of whites too, and could gather valuable information from eavesdropping and reading newspapers. (187-8) This means of resistance was intimately connected with and further influenced the identity of African diaspora. Language was also an important vehicle for resistance during the American Revolution and the Great Awakening periods. However, words could not truly halt the day-to-day traumas of chattel slavery for an enslaved person, only completely removing one's self from the institution could accomplish
The word drawl means “to speak slowly with vowels greatly prolonged” (Merriam-Webster). The phoneme in speech produces a southern accent with a unique dialect, characterized by systematic differences between those individuals in the south. The language or some may call that southern drawl, is due to the settlement of the “British debtors in the 18 century”. Although there seems to exist a complexity in the speech and sound pattern, it is almost replicated in movies and television shows such as the Dallas television series. Nevertheless, there is much more controversy surrounding the way “Native African Americans” began their southern drawl.
“Around 1858, over 400 slaves from Africa were brought to Georgia none of them knowing how to speak the English Language.” (Smitherman, 1994, p10) Being that these two groups merged together they adapted each other’s language whether it was correct or incorrect. On the East Coast of America, “the Blacks spoke a different degree of Ebonics”. (Lewis, 1996, MSN) In 1744 The New York Evening Post read, "Ran away...a new Negro Fellow named Prince, he can't scarce speak a Word of English" (Fisher, 1996, MSN) In 1760 an ad in the North Carolina Gazette read: "Ran away from the Subscriber, African Born, speaks bad English."(Stoller,1996, MSN) In 1734, the Philadelphia American Weekly Mercury read: “Run away; he’s Pennsylvania Born and speaks good English," These articles show where each person came from and what there English was like. It is obvious that masters kept tabs on how well their slave could talk. It was one of the ways that the masters could identify their slaves when they had many of them. They also used the slaves that new good English to translate or explain what the other slaves were saying. In the Mid 1800's slaves tried to use their language to help them escape from slavery. They would sing spirituals, which their masters could not understand. Harriet Tubman and many others communicated in Ebonics, which their masters couldn't
“A language variety is basically the style of language that a speaker chooses, whether it be slang, jargon, formal or baby-talk. Social factors are the primary reason that speakers choose different styles,” (Payne). Language allows Cumulative human experience, shared perspective, as well as it allows complex, shared, goal directed behavior. “The physical environment of a conversation or oral presentation plays a large role in the variety of language an individual uses,” (Payne). The difference between how and individual may speak with their grandmother and how the speak to a friend is huge. There is always a time and place in which one should speak in a formal language, other times it is alright to talk informal. Language impacts my life in a huge way and it is mostly in a bad way. I surround myself by people that speak a lot of slang and a lot of curse words so it was bound to affect my language, the way I speak has a lot to do with the people I spend my time
African American vernacular traditions have been around for many centuries and still cease to exist in their culture. The vernacular traditions of the African Americans started when slaves were existent in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. It is believed that the slaves spoke a mix of Creole and partial English, in which they had to create in order to communicate between them discreetly. The vernacular traditions originated from the way the slaves lived their lives and their creativity. The relationship between the slaves and their masters, were very weak because the master’s believed that the slaves were inferior to them. It is believed that African American
It is arguable that African American English is a dialect of contemporary American English. While AAE is different and is easily distinguishable from Standard American English, the two dialects still share similarities and are forms of vernacular English. As AAE stems from and shares many linguistic patterns with Creole and other African languages, it is possible to argue that AAE is in fact not related to contemporary American English at all. However, I feel that the different influences on language are simple markers of regional variation and not enough to fully
James and Lesley Milroy’s ‘Linguistic Change, Social Network and Speaker Innovation’ was published by Journal of Linguistics in 1985. The article is one of several publications by the Milroys which draw upon Lesley Milroy’s fieldwork in Belfast during the 1970s (see, for instance, Milroy & Milroy 1978, 1992, 1993; L. Milroy, 1987; J. Milroy 1992). I will first present a summary of the Milroys’ methodology and key findings. Secondly, I will examine the strengths of the paper, focusing on their appropriation of Granovetter’s weak-tie theory and the correlation between network strength and two different kinds of language change. Finally, I will evaluate the weaknesses of the paper, with a specific focus on the lack of empirical evidence,
are used by a lot of people aged 12 - 18, it is quite possible that in