BLACK VERNACULAR ENGLISH ЭЛИНА НАСИБУЛЛИНА WHAT IS STANDARD ENGLISH General American is a major accent of American English, particularly considered the American accent that is the most neutral or lacking in distinctive regional, ethnic, or socioeconomic characteristics. BLACK VERNACULAR ENGLISH It is a variety of American English, most commonly spoken today by urban working-class and largely bidialectal middle-class African Americans. It has its distinctive vocabulary, specific phonetic features and grammar rules. WHAT ACTUALLY IS BLACK VERNACULAR ENGLISH? It is the language of Black America. However, not all 36 million of black people of the USA choose to speak Black Vernacular, especially the educated classes. Other names for Black Vernacular English: • Nonstandard Negro English • African American English • African American Vernacular English • Ebonics • Black Communications • Black Poverty Language • Casual Register English HISTORICAL BACKGROUND • Beginning of the 17th century • Slave Trade from Africa to America • Origins from: • African languages like Ghanaian and Nigerian • Carribean Creole • First used mainly in the South • Spread across The United States during The Great Migration (rural South – large metropolitan areas of North • Became widely known in the 20th century THE BVE SPREADING STUDYING BVE • First research into the character and rules of BVE were carried out in the 1960s • Linguists from mainly Northern parts of the country studied BVE • Main focus: correspondence of the use of BVE and low academic achievements at the time William Labov (born 1927) NORM OR DEVIATION FROM IT? INCORRECT USAGE OF LANGUAGE A VARIATION/ A DIALECT OF LANGUAGE • It is done on the spot • Has a historical background, doesn’t vary from speaker to speaker • Has no system • Has a system of rules • Does not cover a certain group of speakers • A permanent group of black and nonblack speakers use it every day SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: GRAMMAR BE is dropped When we speak about something that is happening now. GA: She is tired BVE: She tired BE is preserved When we speak about habitual actions or general states. Note! BE is not conjugated. GA: She is funny (always) BVE: She be funny SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: GRAMMAR The Aspect of Number is unimportant: General American Black Vernacular 50 cents 50 cent They were at home They was at home She goes to school She go to school SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: GRAMMAR Verb Conjugation System PRESENT (GA) DO (BVE) DO PAST DID DONE PAST PARTICIPLE HAVE DONE DONE DID (DONE=HAVE) SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: GRAMMAR SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: GRAMMAR NEGATION Ain’t It is a general auxiliary verb for negation. It is used instead of isn’t don’t, etc. I ain’t know that Double Negation In BVE, is the sentence is negative, all negotiable forms are negated. GA: I don’t know anything about it. BVE: I don’t know nothing about it. Also! Starting with negatives is typical: Don’t nobody know her. SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: GRAMMAR THEM This personal pronoun is used in Black Vernacular English instead of the demonstrative pronoun THOSE GA: Those flowers are beautiful BVE: Them flowers beautiful SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: LEXIS • Lexis of BVE takes root in African languages • Many borrowings from Southern American dialect • Some words from general casual dialect • Some words belonging to BVE are now of common use in General American: • Jazz • Hip • Tote SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: LEXIS Black Vernacular Shine Ice General American Jewelry Diamonds Jigged Looking good Wack Something crazy Word? Really? or Yes Hypnotic Whip Alcohol Car SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: LEXIS Black Vernacular General American Dumb Excellent, very smart Wifey Main girlfriend Daddy Main boyfriend Crib Home Gear Clothes Bob; Gat; Heat Gun SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: LEXIS Words for MONEY in Black Vernacular English SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: PHONETICS 5 sounds for TH-combination in BVE (compared to 2 in GA) • Voiceless/initial position GA: Thing, thank, thigh BVE: thing, thank, thigh (no change) • Voiced/initial position GA: That, them, these BVE: Dat, dem, dese SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: PHONETICS • Voiceless/medial position: GA: bathroom, birthday BVE: bafroom, burfday • Voiced/medial position: GA: mother, brother BVE: muvah, bruvah SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: PHONETICS • Voiceless/terminal position GA: with, mouth, path, both BVE: wif, mouf, paf, bof SPECIFIC FEATURES OF BVE: PHONETICS 1. Final B, D, G devoicing: cub cup, bed bet 2. NG-endings as N: going goin, morning mornin 3. Final consonant reduction: • Cold col • Mask mas • Test tes 4. When 2 consonants are at the end of the word, in BVE they are often interchanged: • • Ask aks Grasp graps EXAMPLES From the Disney cartoon “The Princess and The Frog” "You blind to what you need” “I be tellin' you." "Money ain't got no heart “ "You yo daddy's daughta" EXAMPLES “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby” – Louis Jordan’s song written in 1944 Among other famous performers, Anita O’Day (1919-2006) sang it in the early 1950s IS YOU IS OR IS YOU AIN’T MY BABY Is you is or is you ain't my baby The way you're acting lately makes me doubt You’s is still my baby, baby Or has that flame in your heart done gone out A fella is a creature that, that has always been strange When you think you're sure of one He’d gone and made a change Is you is or is you ain't my baby Maybe baby found somebody new Or is my baby still my baby true MUCH OBLIGED FOR YOUR ATTENTION! ANY QUESTIONS? I WILL BE PLEASED TO ANSWER!