Ebonics, Black English, African-American vernacular English, Black Talk, Or AnyOtha Terminology u Want ta Use (But, not
James Baldwin Da-Great Spittin' on Black English
"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... A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey"
- lf Black English lsn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What ls (1979)
my spoken soul picks
Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English by J.R. Rickford and R.J. Rickford
In 2000, Rickford and his son, Rickford, both take on the task of combatting a long-time argument amongst American/European linguists: do Black people speak English incorrectly, or are they not really speaking English at all?
Truly utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, both scholars use the traditional practices of linguistics, history, literary analysis, sociology, media studies, and even musicology (somewhat) to prove that Spoken Soul is not only a separate language, but that this system can be legitimized under traditional classifications and rules of language. Furthermore, the Rickfords argue that Spoken Soul, is a direct result of oppressive contact with Europeans, and that African-Americans were forced, in order to survive, to mesh their native tongues with their master’s tongues and to create a structural and cultural system of words, sounds, expressions and actions. Spoken Soul is not only a language, but a black culture, that has endured within American society, helped to shape American society, and ultimately, became a sociopolitical marker for an entire class and race of people. Spoken Soul is but another beautiful literary and rhetorical tool used by African-Americans to navigate through the antagonistic world that surrounds them.
What will make this work stand out, and will mark it’s place within the academy, is Rickfords’ ability to outline directly the rules of Spoken Soul. So, even according to European standardization of language, Spoken Soul qualifies and fits the mold. Spoke Soul is the testimony of a people who have survived linguistic and cultural genocide.
Spoken Soul is but another beautiful literary and rhetorical tool used by African-Americans to navigate through the antagonistic world that surrounds them.