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Serious question about African-American English language use:

 
The Sonic Dreamer
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02/04/2013 02:17 PM
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Serious question about African-American English language use:
POLL: What is the cause of African-American "slang?"
 The speaker believes it to be proper language. That is, he does not know it is incorrect.
 The speaker knows it is not "proper" English, but wants a "Ghetto Edge." *Knows it is incorrect*
 Combination of both 1 and 2
 Some other reason entirely
 Blank (View Results) 


I am going to remove any racist or unintelligent comments.

I am curious though, and I have asked multiple African-Americans this same question:

Why do so many African-Americans use improper English so often?

For example, "I be at my cousin house" has two common misuses, which is heard often- "I be" should be "I am" and also the lack of the possessive at the end of "cousin" should be "cousin's."

In fact the dropping of the "s" is quite common, I feel, at least in the African-American English I hear in the northeast United States. "She is crazy" is often stated as "She crazy."

Is this because popular hip-hop music encourages this type of improper English? Do the Black Americans (and some white and Hispanic Americans speak this way also) even know they are speaking poorly?

This is my ultimate question on this subject:
Does the speaker speak this improper English because he believes it to be proper language? That is, he does not know it is incorrect, because this is the manner of speech he has heard his entire life and has learned the language this way?

or,

Does the speaker know that it is not "proper" English, but speaks this way in order to have a "Ghetto Edge" or perhaps out of spite/hatred toward whites, who are perceived to be wealthy, educated, and snobbish?


This is a serious question, worth serious debate.


I am certain there are individuals who fall into both categories. However, if the first instance is true, then it actually is not improper English, but rather, has become a dialect of English.
My belief is that the first scenario has begun to develop as a result of widespread instances mentioned in the second scenario.


One thing is for certain: This subject is not being addressed by high profile African-Americans. I absolutely believe if Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would decry the terrible state of education in America, especially with regard to poor, disaffected African -Americans and especially the youth.

I am not racist, but it is worth noting that a knee-jerk reaction to posing this question and framing it in an intelligent manner focusing on linguistics and sociology, is to vilify the questioner as racist.
Indeed, the most racist are those who appear to be benevolent anti-racists, such as the politicians who ensure the poorest of Americans remain dependent upon government assistance, with a severely limited education, little to no opportunity or incentive for upward mobility, engrossed in violence and glorification of ghetto-glamour, gang membership, drug use and drug trade, promiscuity, single mothers, and lack of responsibility.
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')
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02/04/2013 02:18 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
some other reason entirely:

dialect.
Anonymous Coward
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02/04/2013 02:25 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
some other reason entirely:

dialect.
 Quoting: Oyster


I disagree. Dialect is ingrained, the method od speaking he's referring to is intentional.

Ask them to do an impersonation of a white man, they'll use proper english when they do.

I work with the public in a shitty part of a Southern city, trust me, it's intentional.
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02/04/2013 02:26 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
some other reason entirely:

dialect.
 Quoting: Oyster


I disagree. Dialect is ingrained, the method od speaking he's referring to is intentional.

Ask them to do an impersonation of a white man, they'll use proper english when they do.

I work with the public in a shitty part of a Southern city, trust me, it's intentional.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32908345


you know what.

you have a very good point.
The Sonic Dreamer (OP)

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02/04/2013 02:27 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
some other reason entirely:

dialect.
 Quoting: Oyster


Thanks for your vote, Oyster. I am interested to hear your thoughts further on this subject. Linguistics is fascinating to me, and I would imagine to you as well to some degree.

Did you get a chance to read my entire post? Do you agree with my assertion that the first scenario would actually not make it "improper" use of English, but rather would make it a dialect of the language.

I think this debate might hinge on whether the speaker realizes what he is speaking is incorrect and he is purposely speaking incorrect proper English, or not.


This is how language develops, and it is a testament to how isolated inner cities and black ghettos have become, that language has begun to evolve! You would expect centuries ago, that over generations, the common language of a land would branch out into different dialects and eventually into different languages entirely....but that was as a result of geography- peoples separated by mountain ranges, or bodies of water, or vast distances. In this case, language might be evolving because of SOCIAL and ECONOMIC class differences.

It is interesting and important to note, that my thread title might be misleading....as this is actually a socio-economic class issue with language. There are commonalities among whites, hispanics, and blacks who live in the same ghettos, so this is not a racial language issue.


What do you think?
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')
The Sonic Dreamer (OP)

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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
some other reason entirely:

dialect.
 Quoting: Oyster


I disagree. Dialect is ingrained, the method od speaking he's referring to is intentional.

Ask them to do an impersonation of a white man, they'll use proper english when they do.

I work with the public in a shitty part of a Southern city, trust me, it's intentional.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32908345


Wow, astute observation! This is an incredibly astute observation. Wow! Thank you for your insight!


But consider this: If this language is used purposefully in an incorrect manner, will it not develop into a dialect eventually, in a matter of just one generation? Children today growing up, if this is the way they hear language being used, will learn to speak this way naturally, unless it is corrected in the school system.
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')
Anonymous Coward
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02/04/2013 02:30 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
You should have had more options.

Hint: Why is the average IQ in Africa 75?
Anonymous Coward
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02/04/2013 02:31 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
some other reason entirely:

dialect.
 Quoting: Oyster


I disagree. Dialect is ingrained, the method od speaking he's referring to is intentional.

Ask them to do an impersonation of a white man, they'll use proper english when they do.

I work with the public in a shitty part of a Southern city, trust me, it's intentional.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32908345


intentional doesn't mean "not dialect." ask any italian or german.
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02/04/2013 02:31 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
What i have noticed is that when in the company of certain people, it can be turned on and off like a switch, or as the situation dictates.
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02/04/2013 02:32 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
i dont know OP....after what the AC said i have to rethink it.
The Sonic Dreamer (OP)

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02/04/2013 02:33 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
some other reason entirely:

dialect.
 Quoting: Oyster


I disagree. Dialect is ingrained, the method od speaking he's referring to is intentional.

Ask them to do an impersonation of a white man, they'll use proper english when they do.

I work with the public in a shitty part of a Southern city, trust me, it's intentional.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32908345


intentional doesn't mean "not dialect." ask any italian or german.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


Can you elaborate please, Swinburnian? The way you wrote your post is unclear to me, what your meaning is. Thanks, I am interested in what you have to say!
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')
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02/04/2013 02:33 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
What i have noticed is that when in the company of certain people, it can be turned on and off like a switch, or as the situation dictates.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 22192353


english people do this too
The Sonic Dreamer (OP)

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02/04/2013 02:34 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
You should have had more options.

Hint: Why is the average IQ in Africa 75?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 33674040


This is irrelevant to the topic, although racial IQ is a valid topic for discussion.
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')
Anonymous Coward
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02/04/2013 02:35 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
some other reason entirely:

dialect.
 Quoting: Oyster


I disagree. Dialect is ingrained, the method od speaking he's referring to is intentional.

Ask them to do an impersonation of a white man, they'll use proper english when they do.

I work with the public in a shitty part of a Southern city, trust me, it's intentional.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32908345


intentional doesn't mean "not dialect." ask any italian or german.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


Can you elaborate please, Swinburnian? The way you wrote your post is unclear to me, what your meaning is. Thanks, I am interested in what you have to say!
 Quoting: The Sonic Dreamer


You can be a native speaker of a dialect and speak it among other native speakers, while still understanding and being able to speak another dialect or "standard language." sicilians and venetians, amongst themselves, speak dialects the other wouldn't understand, but they can and do speak "standard italian" to each other.
The Sonic Dreamer (OP)

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02/04/2013 02:35 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
I have removed two posts already, and I will remove all posts that have nothing relevant to add.

Racist or pathetic attempts at humor will be removed.

If it is not funny, and it is not intelligent, and it does not add to the conversation/debate, then keep it to yourself.
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')
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02/04/2013 02:36 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
I have removed two posts already, and I will remove all posts that have nothing relevant to add.

Racist or pathetic attempts at humor will be removed.

If it is not funny, and it is not intelligent, and it does not add to the conversation/debate, then keep it to yourself.
 Quoting: The Sonic Dreamer


you are going to be fighting an uphill battle with this topic
The Sonic Dreamer (OP)

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02/04/2013 02:37 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
intentional doesn't mean "not dialect." ask any italian or german.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


Can you elaborate please, Swinburnian? The way you wrote your post is unclear to me, what your meaning is. Thanks, I am interested in what you have to say!
 Quoting: The Sonic Dreamer


You can be a native speaker of a dialect and speak it among other native speakers, while still understanding and being able to speak another dialect or "standard language." sicilians and venetians, amongst themselves, speak dialects the other wouldn't understand, but they can and do speak "standard italian" to each other.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


I understand what you mean. Does your example directly translate to the use of English in the inner city ghettos?
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
...


I disagree. Dialect is ingrained, the method od speaking he's referring to is intentional.

Ask them to do an impersonation of a white man, they'll use proper english when they do.

I work with the public in a shitty part of a Southern city, trust me, it's intentional.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32908345


intentional doesn't mean "not dialect." ask any italian or german.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


Can you elaborate please, Swinburnian? The way you wrote your post is unclear to me, what your meaning is. Thanks, I am interested in what you have to say!
 Quoting: The Sonic Dreamer


You can be a native speaker of a dialect and speak it among other native speakers, while still understanding and being able to speak another dialect or "standard language." sicilians and venetians, amongst themselves, speak dialects the other wouldn't understand, but they can and do speak "standard italian" to each other.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


a good test of whether you're a native speaker of a dialect, i find, is how you speak when you're really, really angry.
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02/04/2013 02:38 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
It's kinda like the carnival workers, they have their own terminology which they've developed to keep the general public from understanding them. Even though they're using English, the words definition and pronunciation will change to something that isn't technically correct.

Same thing, it's a way to set themselves apart, and to keep others 'not from the hood' from being able to decider their vernacular. I.E. Security mechanism.

It's also a means of identification. How many 'outsiders' are gonna pick up on the difference meanings of the term 'heater', pronounced 'heatuh', as a term for a pistol. Or "Boo" as a term of endearment.

I do it to, to some extent, since I've lived around it for so long. When I get angry it comes out, don't know why. It's just a lazy tongue on my part.
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
intentional doesn't mean "not dialect." ask any italian or german.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


Can you elaborate please, Swinburnian? The way you wrote your post is unclear to me, what your meaning is. Thanks, I am interested in what you have to say!
 Quoting: The Sonic Dreamer


You can be a native speaker of a dialect and speak it among other native speakers, while still understanding and being able to speak another dialect or "standard language." sicilians and venetians, amongst themselves, speak dialects the other wouldn't understand, but they can and do speak "standard italian" to each other.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


I understand what you mean. Does your example directly translate to the use of English in the inner city ghettos?
 Quoting: The Sonic Dreamer


i'd venture that most inner-city blacks speak in their own dialect to each other can speak standard english if they feel they should, but not without some mistakes due to poor education.
The Sonic Dreamer (OP)

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02/04/2013 02:41 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
It's kinda like the carnival workers, they have their own terminology which they've developed to keep the general public from understanding them. Even though they're using English, the words definition and pronunciation will change to something that isn't technically correct.

Same thing, it's a way to set themselves apart, and to keep others 'not from the hood' from being able to decider their vernacular. I.E. Security mechanism.

It's also a means of identification. How many 'outsiders' are gonna pick up on the difference meanings of the term 'heater', pronounced 'heatuh', as a term for a pistol. Or "Boo" as a term of endearment.

I do it to, to some extent, since I've lived around it for so long. When I get angry it comes out, don't know why. It's just a lazy tongue on my part.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32908345




Very astute observation! Thank you for your input. Since you have been surrounded by this phenomena, and you are also insightful and astute, can you offer any more of your opinions or might you share some anecdotal experiences?

For example, have you witnessed certain speakers "switch" from one form of proper English to a different improper form of English, and vice-versa, depending upon surroundings?
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')
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02/04/2013 02:48 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
Swin's last post is correct. They will use correct grammar and verbiage in certain scenarios, but there will be some slight errors with it.
The education system in the cities has failed. The system can't take full blame though, it's also a culture that has remained hostile to 'outsiders' influence.

There's a lot of nuance that goes into 'talking street' which is lost in translation. The language is almost intuitively based, meaning you can throw in a term that doesn't fit the definition but it will work if it maintains a certain rhythm or flow.
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02/04/2013 02:54 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
Swin's last post is correct. They will use correct grammar and verbiage in certain scenarios, but there will be some slight errors with it.
The education system in the cities has failed. The system can't take full blame though, it's also a culture that has remained hostile to 'outsiders' influence.

There's a lot of nuance that goes into 'talking street' which is lost in translation. The language is almost intuitively based, meaning you can throw in a term that doesn't fit the definition but it will work if it maintains a certain rhythm or flow.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32908345


it's no different than many other examples in the english-speaking world. my mother's a cockney, but an educated one, and can switch back and forth at will. my grandmother, who left her sub-standard school at 14? not so much.
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
They have NO RESPECT for the english language and speak worse than their grandparents did.


Another reason I generally do not like or respect blacks.
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02/04/2013 03:06 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
They'll switch based on the person they're addressing.

If they're talking to a person who is an 'outsider' but is in a position that they consider professional, or as a matter of simply being understood to conduct a transaction, they will scale back on the use of 'street terms' and replace them with their 'proper equivalent'. I.E. Shop owner, skilled labor, LEO, or someone who is obviously a Vet. Also, if the person they're addressing has been in the area for a while to be regarded as being an 'outsider, but accepted' they will usually make a reasonable attempt to be understood.

As far as them understanding 'proper english', no problem at all. It's the language used in television and movies, they get it just fine. Some of the more archaic or obscure words they may not grasp at first, but that's with anyone in modern culture.

They understand that not everyone can understand the dialect (Swin's right) and will adjust accordingly IF they feel it is in their interest to do so.
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
i reckon i could take a bet wit ya ...

the english and the rest of the people here in the uk use improper English - not often - but - ALL THE TIME!

and... improper usage of english is spread across the planet in every country.


WHATS YOU SAY SONNY BOY?



I am going to remove any racist or unintelligent comments.

I am curious though, and I have asked multiple African-Americans this same question:

Why do so many African-Americans use improper English so often?

For example, "I be at my cousin house" has two common misuses, which is heard often- "I be" should be "I am" and also the lack of the possessive at the end of "cousin" should be "cousin's."

In fact the dropping of the "s" is quite common, I feel, at least in the African-American English I hear in the northeast United States. "She is crazy" is often stated as "She crazy."

Is this because popular hip-hop music encourages this type of improper English? Do the Black Americans (and some white and Hispanic Americans speak this way also) even know they are speaking poorly?

This is my ultimate question on this subject:
Does the speaker speak this improper English because he believes it to be proper language? That is, he does not know it is incorrect, because this is the manner of speech he has heard his entire life and has learned the language this way?

or,

Does the speaker know that it is not "proper" English, but speaks this way in order to have a "Ghetto Edge" or perhaps out of spite/hatred toward whites, who are perceived to be wealthy, educated, and snobbish?


This is a serious question, worth serious debate.


I am certain there are individuals who fall into both categories. However, if the first instance is true, then it actually is not improper English, but rather, has become a dialect of English.
My belief is that the first scenario has begun to develop as a result of widespread instances mentioned in the second scenario.


One thing is for certain: This subject is not being addressed by high profile African-Americans. I absolutely believe if Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would decry the terrible state of education in America, especially with regard to poor, disaffected African -Americans and especially the youth.

I am not racist, but it is worth noting that a knee-jerk reaction to posing this question and framing it in an intelligent manner focusing on linguistics and sociology, is to vilify the questioner as racist.
Indeed, the most racist are those who appear to be benevolent anti-racists, such as the politicians who ensure the poorest of Americans remain dependent upon government assistance, with a severely limited education, little to no opportunity or incentive for upward mobility, engrossed in violence and glorification of ghetto-glamour, gang membership, drug use and drug trade, promiscuity, single mothers, and lack of responsibility.
 Quoting: The Sonic Dreamer
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
...


intentional doesn't mean "not dialect." ask any italian or german.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


Can you elaborate please, Swinburnian? The way you wrote your post is unclear to me, what your meaning is. Thanks, I am interested in what you have to say!
 Quoting: The Sonic Dreamer


You can be a native speaker of a dialect and speak it among other native speakers, while still understanding and being able to speak another dialect or "standard language." sicilians and venetians, amongst themselves, speak dialects the other wouldn't understand, but they can and do speak "standard italian" to each other.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


a good test of whether you're a native speaker of a dialect, i find, is how you speak when you're really, really angry.
 Quoting: Swinburnian


Or excited.
luvstruk
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
We speak like that because we rebel against authority. What's it to ya? Why do rednecks speak like their tongues are swollen?
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
We speak like that because we rebel against authority. What's it to ya? Why do rednecks speak like their tongues are swollen?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 29546692


Peckerwoods have their own language too.

And yes, some of it does have to do with rebelling against the mainstream. It's a matter of ideological pride, and geographic identity. Some consider it 'uneducated' but they are 'outsiders, not to be trusted' typically.

I think that's what it boils down to. Language, particularly dialect, is the most efficient means of identifying others that are in your particular sub-culture. It's a means of self-preservation when in groups of people that you do not know personally.

Example: I'm in a big box mart when I hear gunfire. If I hear someone say, "Shit. GET COVER, NOW! MOVE MOVE MOVE!!" I know that he/she has probably been in combat, or atleast trained for it, and my chance of survival rises if I follow their lead. If I hear "Firecrackers? What asshole brings firecrackers into a store?" I'm not going to take any cues from them.

Extreme example I know, but it works in the same principle as a bar fight would. If a guy gets sucker punched by someone, and if he appears to be in my 'group' I'll be more likely to move to his defense. If he's obviously not, then I sit back and watch the show.
The Sonic Dreamer (OP)

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02/04/2013 08:34 PM
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Re: Serious question about African-American English language use:
They have NO RESPECT for the english language and speak worse than their grandparents did.


Another reason I generally do not like or respect blacks.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1136710


This is a pretty ignorant statement you make. You offer no intellectual commentary, other than your hoity-toity comment about lack of respect, showing your judgement.

Examine your beliefs.
Currently working on:
Bach: Invention No. 1
Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Mendelssohn: Tarantella Op.102 no.3
Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 no. 6 (both from 'Songs Without Words')

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