Black Vernacular English

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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!
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