Saving Black language

Trying to get through to people on language can be hard. For instance, the idea of hearing only the way White people talk is scary. But it’s not b/c White people talk poorly or boringly or anything like that; it’s the loss of Black speech. That would be similar to the destruction of the Buddhas in Afghanistan or the destruction of New Orleans after Katrina. These are world cultural treasures.
It’s apparent in listening to my wife code-switch; the vibrancy and laughter and word choice and intonation and so on in Black speech survives, for the most part, the leveling of grammar. My son is a good example of someone who “talks Black” without the grammar of Black English. Other than in a few set phrases, his grammar is that of Standard English, the language he was raised with, but he sounds Black b/c he copies most other features of Black speech onto his own when he chooses.
This, to me, is similar to what I read on listservs like The Lowlands Languages listserv I am on; people are proud to speak their dialect, be it Saxon or Scots or Frisian, and want to reinforce its use, not to the detriment of the standard (German, Dutch, English) but to the blooming of their home language.
In the U.S., Black language has been villified (see anything on the Oakland “Ebonics” controversy), which, in my not-so-humble opinion, is simply an extension of the villification of the people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *