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If Black English Isn't A Language, Then What Is?

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Ren Harris

on 19 March 2015

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Transcript of If Black English Isn't A Language, Then What Is?

If Black English Isn't A Language, Then What Is?
-Renee Harrison

James Baldwin's
If Black English Isn't A Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?

Oral Devices
*Thought is expressed with relatively close reference to the human life world

-This means that the speaker tries to explain his meaning in terms that the listener can relate to, often by comparing his idea to something in the listener’s world.



*There is a tendency for expression to be conservative.

-New things are hard to accept and understand without opportunity for reflection, so a speaker stands a better chance of being understood if he conveys his ideas in old, accepted “conservative” ways.



Zora Neale Hurston
"Their Eyes Were Watching God"

Margaret Walker
"Jubilee"

Conclusion
Language

As defined by James Baldwin
(1979 Essay):

"A Language comes into
existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey."
Language

As defined by Webster Dictionary:

: the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other

: any one of the systems of human language that are used and understood by a particular group of people

: words of a particular kind
Mentioned Vocabulary

Jazz: Highly Sexual Term

Sock it to me: Expression from the late 1960s until the early 1970s. Literally means "give it to me," but generally had a underlying sexual connotation.

Let it all hang out:to be yourself, assuming that you generally are not

Beat to his socks: An old black phrase to refer to extreme poverty

Funky: Something thats cool or admirable
Language, incontestably, reveals the speaker. Language, also, far more dubiously, is meant to define the other--and, in this case, the other is refusing to be defined by a language that has never been able to recognize him.
The question of whether "black english" is a dialect of "American" english or if it is its own language has been present for ovr 50 years. Some linguists have concluded that this vernacular is a dialect, but in James Baldwin's 1979 Essay, 'If Black English Isn't A Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?' he redifines a preconceived idea of the language of his people.
"It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity"
Black English classifies as a language and nothing less. With its complex roots varying from slave spirituals to 'modern' music to literature, it proves to be a language in itself with its own set of dialects.
Literary Devices

Diction
Diction refers to an author's choice of words. When describing the events of her story, an author never has just one word at her disposal. Rather, she must choose from many words that have similar denotative meanings (the definition you'd find in a dictionary) but different connotative meanings (the associations, positive or negative, with a given word).
Satire
The use of humor, irony or exaggeration to criticize.
Ability to disseminate widely
“... 'Course, talkin' don't amount tuh uh hill uh beans when yuh can't do nothin' else. And listenin' tuh dat kind uh talk is jus' lak openin' yo' mouth and lettin' de moon shine down yo' throat. It's uh known fact, Pheopby, you got tuh go there tuh know there. Yo' papa and yo' mama and nobody else can't tell yuh and show yuh. Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin' fuh theyselves.”
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Full transcript