Yes, Black English is a Dialect! Argh!!!!

There are a couple of very interesting threads about ‘Ebonics’ (African-American Vernacular English – AAVE) over at Oliver Willis’ blog – “Acting White” & RealityI Be Talking Good, Yo. It never ceases to amaze me how people, Oliver included, can assume that AAVE has no rules. Believe me, you can speak AAVE improperly. Many of those commenters, and Oliver, seem incredulous that AAVE is an actual dialect of standard American English. Well damn, if linguists say it’s a dialect it’s a damn dialect. For those commenter that keep asking for an AAVE book as proof that it’s a dialect, you can borrow my reader from my 1989 Stanford Linguistics 73 (Black English) course taught by Professor J.R. Rickford. (Plenty of books for you there.)

As for the rest of the discussion, I think we all can agree that people need to speak proper English for job interviews and the like.

(Via P6)

P.S. “Do You Speak American?” should be required viewing for all involved in those threads!

P.P.S. I see that Dean has written an excellent piece supporting the uncontrovertible fact that Black English is a valid language/dialect.

Categorized as Race


  1. Fucking exactly. My grandfather in Taiwan speaks Hakka Chinese as his native language, but was first taught Nihongo under the occupation, and Mandarin shortly after the Japs were kicked out and the ROC came in. HE IS NOT AN UNINTELLIGENT INDIVIDUAL FOR SPEAKING HIS NATIVE SPEECH. Neither is the rest of my family, for that matter, for doing the same. (Save for my grandfather on the other side, who is uneducated and thus can ONLY speak in Minnan Taiwanese.)

    YOU CAN BE AN EDUCATED BLACK PERSON AND STILL SPEAK EBONICS. Cos was right about many things, “talking funny” isn’t one of them. Besides, why aren’t we talking about Bill Cosby’s OWN fun-ny way of TAL-king!?

  2. P.S. “Do You Speak American?” should be required viewing for all involved in those threads!


    Someone in one of the threads suggested Oliver is still reacting to being made fun of as a kid for not being verbally “with it.” Very possible: I know I still react to a LOT of things that happened to me as a kid and I’m nearly twice his age.

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