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Unformatted text preview: African American English (AAE) (AAE) Continuation from last class: Continuation Variation in AAE Variation LIN 200 JC Weisenberg Feb 26, 2009 Variation in Copula Absence Variation Ø copula, copula deletion or copula copula, absence absence She __ goin’ to the store. She goin • • • Variation correlates with: age speech situation internal linguistic factors Copula Absence in AAE: adults vs. teenage boys 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 16% 0% Pronoun African American teenage boys African American adults 51% Frequences of Copula Absence across 3 Speech Situations 80 60 % Copula 40 Absence 20 0 Unfamiliar Whites Unfamilar Blacks Black Peer Group From: “You Know my Steez.” Samy Alim (2005:155) Internal Constraints on Variation Internal Copula absence in AAE is more likely to occur before certain grammatical categories: categories: Noun: She __ da one. She Locative: She __ there. Locative: Adjective: She __ pretty. Adjective: -ing Verb: She __ laughin’. Verb: laughin Gon’ (gonna): She __ gon’ go home. Gon ): gon Copula Absence in AAE (young ingroup) and Jamaica Creole 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Noun Locative Adjective -ing Verb gon' Following Grammatical Environment AAE Jamaican Creole Variation in Third person verbal s absence She go_ there. He say_ he goin’ there. He goin Variation correlates with: social class social speech situation speech Verbal -s absence among African Americans in Detroit 100 90 80 70 60 50 % -s absence 40 30 20 10 0 56.9 71.4 1.4 UM 9.7 % -s absence UW LW LM Social Class Frequencies of Third Person Verbal -s Absence in Different Settings 100 80 % Verbal -s 60 Absence 40 20 0 Unfamiliar Whites Unfamiliar Blacks Black Peer Group Is this an example of internal or external constraints on variation? AAE Lexicon Geneva Smitherman, linguist, activist, professor at U. Michigan AAE Lexicon (from Smitherman) Smitherman Hip: knowledgeable, with it; to inform someone or make them knowledgeable, aware of something. aware Got your nose open: refers to a person who is vulnerable or refers helpless because of being deeply in love. helpless Gangsta limp or pimp walk: a male style of walking or strutting or pimp male with a slight dip in the stride. with Rap: originally meant romantic conversation from a man to a originally woman to win her affections; now means any strong, aggressive, highly fluent powerful talk, cf. rap music aggressive, Steady Steady If the activity is vigorous and intentional, the If sentence may include the word steady. The item steady can be used to mark actions that occur consistently or persistently. consistently Ricky Bell be steady steppin’ in them number nines. steady She steady talkin’. (she is talking non-stop) steady Language Discrimination Language According to Baugh (2000), “llinguistic inguistic profiling is based upon auditory cues that may be used to identify an individual or individuals as belonging to a linguistic subgroup within a given speech community, including a racial subgroup” community, (363). (363). Language Discrimination Purnell et al (1999) show that people can Purnell et judge a speaker’s race on the basis of judge race speech with accuracy rates of 81-97%. The 81 The study presents the findings of four experiments. experiments. In one experiment the authors show that dialect identification is possible on the basis of the word hello alone. hello alone. Housing discrimination Housing In another experiment conducted by Baugh, a telephone survey was conducted (N = 989 calls) using standard and nonstandard dialects to inquire about housing from the same landlords in the Bay Area. The results show that landlords routinely discriminate against prospective tenants on the basis of the sound prospective on of their voice on the phone. of The Ebonics Controversy LIN 200 LIN Feb 26, 2009 Oakland education stats… Oakland 53% percent of the students in the Oakland city schools are Black. Oakland African American students' median grade point average is 1.8 on a 4.0 scale, the lowest of any ethnic or racial group (Fields, 1997). African American students make up 71% of Oakland's students in special education classes but comprise only 37% of those in gifted and talented 37 of programs. Oakland, California December 1996 In the face of these problems, dramatic budget shortfalls, abysmally low reading skills among and a staggering dropout rate, the Oakland School Board released a resolution declaring Ebonics to be the primary language of the majority of its 28,000 African American students. Its goal was to devise a program to improve the literacy skills of its African American students. The ideology behind Ebonics The The term Ebonics emerged in 1973 at a conference on the development of African American children in a paper entitled “Ebonics: the true language of Black Folks” given by Robert Williams. Ebonics was presented as existing on a linguistic continuum with West African, and linguistic with Afro-Caribbean languages. Afro What’s a linguistic continuum? W. African Niger Congo languages (Ewe, Ibo, etc.) Caribbean languages (Jamaican Creole, Haitian Kreyol, etc.) AAE French AAE English Standard English OSB: Oakland School Board Resolution (original version) Resolution African American English exists (para. 1) African AAE is genetically based on Niger Congo languages and is not a dialect of English is dialect (para. 2) (para. African American students face may of the same obstacles as students who are learning English as a second language. (para. 6-7) English African American students should therefore be eligible for Bilingual Education Funds llike ike Bilingual other students with limited English proficiency (para. 6-7) proficiency African American children should be instructed both in their primary language primary and in English. (para. 8). The response: cartoons & editorials editorials http://www.co http://www.co nservativecart oons.com/car toon.php?too n=ebonics.gif &year=1997 Editorials: “Ebonics folly still Ebonics good for laughs” good Copyright 1997 The Tribune Co. Publishes The Tampa Tribune Tampa Tribune (Florida) December 21, 1997, Sunday, FINAL EDITION, BYLINE: JOSEPH H. BROW N I'm speaking of Ebonics (I hate to even capitalize I'm the word), or black English. It all began last December when the Oakland school board declared black English a second language and told teachers they need to respect its use in the classroom… What many of these "experts" now call classroom What black English was called bad English when I was bad when growing up. Teachers would correct any bad diction bad right there in class. “TALK IS CHEAP, WORDS TALK AIN'T” NY Daily News AIN'T January 24, 1997, Friday, Editorial; Pg. 41 RICHARD Z. CHESNOFF The fury over Ebonics is more than a The heated debate about a demeaning attempt to legitimize ghetto slang. ghetto It reflects a growing and, I believe, It dangerous social notion: Somehow, bad English iis not only acceptable, it's s bad "cool." "cool." HEADLINE: TEEN RAP LINE: Should Ebonics be taught? Should Yes 27% No 73% (No.) . . . You can learn it on the street.- Fatimah Sadiq, (No.) Fatimah Sadiq 13, Jamaica Plain 13, I think it would be cool because then we could understand things we hear on TV and on the streets.understand Amy Ladopoulos, 13, Quincy Amy Ladopoulos (No.) . . . What's the point of learning pronouns and verbs and adjectives if we have to learn broken English? Stick broken Stick with the standard, basic English.- Christina Barrows, 13, with Christina Brockton Brockton No, because it's just a way of getting out of learning regular English.- Michelle Rushin, 18, Dorchester regular Michelle Rushin Yes. It teaches kids the freedom they have and we have to have freedom.- Tanisha Webb, 13, Dorchester have No. It's insulting to some people who can speak the language fluently. There's no sense in it, it's just slang.it's Thomas Doyle, 13, Brockton Yes . . If you go outside, you won't understand what's going on when people talk.- Jesse Pina, 13, Cambridge going No. . . . It's an uneducated manner of speaking uneducated comparable to slang and can't be found in any comparable dictionary or grammar book.- Jen Marino, 19, Woburn dictionary (No.) . . . Schools should be teaching kids the right way to talk instead of jibberish.- Chelsea Moore, 13, jibberish Chelsea Chatham Chatham Staunch Ebonics Supporters Urge Training of City's Teachers Urge By CHARISSE JONES January 11, 1997, Saturday, January NYTimes NYTimes In New York and other urban school systems, "too many educators treat different speech patterns with contempt, with ridicule, so a child feels humiliated and refuses to participate in the educational process." participate “Only 30% of New York City third graders Only read at or above grade level. How could you throw out anything when you're doing such a horrible job with all the traditional methods that you use?“ that "We're not talking about teaching the kids ebonics -- they already know it. And we're -- they not talking about replacing standard English with ebonics. We're talking about using ebonics as a bridge." ebonics Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Harvard U.). While quick to dismiss the OSB resolution as “obviously stupid and ridiculous,” he [was] he taken aback at the intensity of the reaction and the fixation on ebonics. “Its’ so much so easier to pick on [Ebonics],” he argues, than easier he to confront the grave national crisis that drove the panicked OSB to adopt its resolution — a reflection of “the sheer reflection the desperation of public schools in the inner city” as they confront intractable illiteracy city as and poverty.” and NYTimes editorial by Frank Rich “The Ebonic Plague” January 8, NYTimes editorial The Ebonic January 1997, Wednesday, Late Edition - Final, Section A; Page 15; Final, Column 1. Column Questions raised by the OSB Resolution Resolution Is AAE a separate language or a dialect of English? dialect Is it sound practice to use someone’s first language to teach someone first them a second language? them Is it sound practice to use someone’s first Is first dialect to teach them the standard dialect? dialect? Should the OSB be eligible for federal Bilingual Education funds in order to teach African American children SE? teach Do you think that adopting the OSB resolution to recognize the legitimacy of Ebonics would have benefited Oakland’s Ebonics African American students? African From a linguistic standpoint: From African American English is NOT a Niger-Congo language. Niger Saying that AAE has roots iin Niger roots n Congo languages is NOT the same as saying that AAE is “genetically related” to those languages. The Linguistic Society of America’s response… America Efforts to recognize the language of many African American students as legitimate and rule-governed should be applauded. rule Using someone’s first dialect to teach them Using first the standard language is acceptable pedagogical practice (cf. Sweden, China, etc.). There are individual and group benefits to maintaining vernacular language varieties. maintaining The LSA revisions… The African Language Systems are… …genetically based [have origins in West and NigerCongo languages] …not a dialect of English [are not merely dialects of are English] English African Language Systems principles will be used in instructing African American children both in their primary language and in English [to transition students primary to from the language patterns they bring to school to English] English …the Superintendent in conjunction with her the staff shall immediately devise and implement the best possible academic program for imparting instruction to African American students in their primary language for the combined purposes of maintaining the legitimacy and richness of such language [facilitating the acquisition and language facilitating mastery of English language skills, while respecting and embracing the legitimacy and richness of the language patterns…] and Discussion Discussion How would the employment of Ebonics to teach SE be implemented in the schools? teach Are the politics of bidialectal education or bidialectal education teaching kids to shift between SE and their home dialect inherently racist as some have argued? argued? Educators struggle to motivate black students to learn mainstream linguistic norms - but with minimal success (p. 315). but Why could this be? Why A related study: related “Black Students’ School Success: Coping with the School Burden of ‘Acting White.’” Signithia Fordham and Fordham John U. Ogbu: The Urban Review 1986, Vol. 18, Ogbu The No. 3. No. Fordham and Ogbu argue that a cultural orientation Ogbu argue has emerged in segments of the black community that defines academic learning in school as “acting acting white.” (p. 177) white This orientation originated because white Americans refused to acknowledge that black Americans are capable of learning and partly because black Americans subsequently began to doubt their own intellectual ability (p. 177). doubt Black Americans began to define academic success as white people’s prerogative, and success prerogative, began to discourage their peers, perhaps unconsciously, from emulating white people in academic striving, i.e., from “acting acting white.” white Peer group pressures against academic striving take many forms, including labeling (e.g. “brainiac” for student who receive good for grades, exclusion from peer activities, or ostracism, and physical assault.” (p. 183). ostracism, How do other countries deal with linguistic minorities? with Friday February 11, 2005 Guardian Weekly Guardian In its long history of minority education, China In has engaged its 50 or so minority groups in bilingual education with an officially proclaimed bilingual with aim to produce bilinguals with a strong competence in Putonghua (standard Chinese) and their home languages. The stated outcome of this policy is for minority groups to be able to communicate with, and ideally assimilate into, mainstream society. assimilate Map of Chinese linguistic minorities minorities http://www.rcl.cityu.edu.hk/atlas/20/A4_20.jpg http://www.rcl.cityu.edu.hk/atlas/20/A4_20.jpg Recent reports from minority areas in China reveal several hidden issues: reveal The first is the transition children go through from early schooling in their mother tongue to learning subjects in standard Chinese later in their school careers. This transition is often reported as being unsmooth, with some children dropping out of school. some This may be a result of the prevailing assimilation mentality [that] portrays minority languages and cultures as primitive, inferior and thus dispensable. MUSE? (Mainstream US English) MUSE? AAVE / AAE AAVE Non-black attitudes towards Non black AAVE: focus on phonology AAVE: The use of aks iis often judged to be a s The result of ignorance or stupidity and lack of education. education. Metathesis: switching of two sounds Metathesis: Old English brid to modern English bird or brid to bird waps for wasp for wasp ask ~ aks aks aks iis found in AAE, Appalachian English, aks s NYC dialects, regional British English NYC acsian ~ ascian > ask acsian ascian ask Metathesis in American English Metathesis A few examples from contemporary speech are the pronunciations “re-la-tor” iinstead of “re-al-tor” for realtor, (ju-luh-ree) nstead for realtor instead of (ju -ul-ree) or (jul-ree) for instead for jewelry, and (pur-fer) instead of (pre-fer) jewelry for prefer. prefer These examples are not considered to be a result of “ignorance” or stupidity because or they are widely used by white speakers. they In the media… In “If a black child emulates one of the If dumb-talking black athletes he sees on dumb he TV, he is not going to be thought of as a superstar. He is going to be thought of as a stupid kid, and later, as a stupid adult… stupid (p. 181) Bob Greene’s Sports Column, Chicago Tribune, Sports Dec. 3, 1979. Dec. African American attitudes towards AAE: focus on grammar grammar Oprah: “To me standard English iis having your s verbs agree with your subject” (in Lippi-Green, verbs Green, p. 193) p. Tendency to overlook the fact that you can use standard English grammar but still employ AAE rhetorical devices and intonation patterns. rhetorical Discourse Modes Discourse Battlin’ mode - highly charged, animated mode highly of interaction of Playing the dozens, signifying - taunt another taunt person by kidding,jiving,teasing http://www.onlinehttp://www.online magazine.com/snaps.htm Woofin’ - to threaten using boastful, strong to language language Toasting: a lengthy, recited narrative or poem Toasting: describing a series of exploits by a central character. Focusing on the main character's heroic acts and exercises of wit, the toast presents values through actions. (cf. rappin’) rappin Du Boisian “double Boisian double consciousness” consciousness Inability to see oneself except through the eyes of others. Du Bois invokes it to describe the situation of black people within the hegemonic white culture of the United States. “It is a peculiar sensation, this doubleconsciousness, this sense of always looking at consciousness, one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity” that (W.E.B. Du Bois 1903:3). (W.E.B. Double consciousness in linguistic terms… linguistic Belief in the need to master SE to get ahead, but…suspicion of black people who use SE. but “Over at my school, if they … first time they Over first catch you talkin’ white, they’lll never let it go. l talkin Even in you just quit talking like that, they’lll l Even never let it go.” (Rickford 1992:191) never [Acknowledging viability and adequacy] of home language, while understanding that it will never be accepted in mainstream society is to set up an unresolvable conflict (LG p. unresolvable conflict 186) 186) Discussion Discussion Would greater social integration lead black people to give up AAE? Would black people be better off if they gave up AAE? up Do you agree with Lippi-Green that AAVE is Do Green not accepted and may never be accepted as a socially viable language by the majority of US English speakers? English Lippi-Green’s tries to show how “good Lippi tries good language” iis reified (made concrete) as the language s language of white people. language Will Black children who do not learn white English have limited choices? English Do you think that learning Standard English Standard will automatically give AAE speakers access will to the rewards and possibilities of the white middle class world? middle What’s your opinion? What “The real trouble with Black English is not the The verbal aspect system which distinguishes it from verbal which other varieties of US English…iit is simply this: t other AAVE is tangible and irrefutable evidence that there is a distinct, healthy, functioning African American culture which is not white and which does not want to be white.” (p. 178) does Would you agree or disagree with Baugh’s position? with “Pragmatic reality forces the burden of Pragmatic adjustment on groups who are outside positions of influence and power. It does little good to claim that street speech is a valid dialect - which it is - when the social which when cost of linguistic differences can be so high.” (John Baugh, Stanford U.) high Is there a “right” and a “wrong” way to and way use English? use How can you explain the fact that some of the most outspoken critics of African American English are African Americans? Americans? ...
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This note was uploaded on 09/27/2009 for the course LIM 200 taught by Professor Weisenberg during the Spring '09 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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