Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas

Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas

Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas

Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas

Synopsis

Enslavement, forced migration, war and colonization have led to the global dispersal of Black communities and to the fragmentation of common experiences. The majority of Black language researchers explore the social and linguistic phenomena of individual Black communities, without looking at Black experiences outside a given community. This groundbreaking collection re-orders the elitist and colonial elements of language studies by drawing together the multiple perspectives of Black language researchers. In doing so, the book recognises and formalises the existence of a "Black Linguistic Perspective" highlights the contributions of Black language researchers in the field. Written exclusively by Black scholars on behalf of, and in collaboration with local communities, the book looks at the commonalities and differences among Black speech communities in Africa and the Diaspora. Topics include:
the OJ Simpson trial
language issues in Southern Africa and Francophone West Africa
the language of Hip Hop
the language of the Rastafaria in Jamaica
With a foreword by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, this is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the linguistic implications of colonization.

Excerpt

Donald Winford

Like so many of my Caribbean and African American colleagues, I have devoted my entire career to the study of the languages of the New World Black Diaspora. For the most part, these languages are associated with the socially disadvantaged, though their use is not exclusive to such groups, and they are often perceived as corruptions or deviations, lacking expressive power and rules of grammar. These languages were created by Africans across the Diaspora, as they came into contact with speakers of European languages under conditions of forced relocation and enslavement. They include the languages that linguists refer to as "Creoles," spoken in Africa, the Caribbean, in areas along the Indian Ocean, and in parts of the US.

The speakers of these languages often refer to them by other names, e.g. Patwa in Jamaica, Papiamentu in Aruba and Curaçao, Sranan Tongo in Suriname. Sometimes the popular names match those used by linguists, for instance Kweyol in St. Lucia, Kreyòl in Haiti, Creolese in Guyana, and Creole in Belize. All of these languages display varying linguistic continuities from English and other European languages, though they have been restructured to different degrees as a result of creative learning by Africans. My own scholarly interests lie in the varieties of English that were created by Africans in the Caribbean and the US during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which I refer to as "New World Black Englishes." In the US, they include the language linguists refer to as African American Vernacular English, recently popularized as "Ebonics" (although the term was coined in 1973), as well as Gullah, the creole that emerged in the coastal areas and on the islands of South Carolina and Georgia. In the Caribbean, English-lexicon creoles are the primary vernaculars of the vast majority of the population in Anglophone countries. The latter include Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, St. Kitts, and various other former British colonies. Among them is Trinidad, my home country, where I learned my own native language, Trinidadian Creole, which we call "Trini." In Trinidad, as in the other Anglophone Caribbean countries, the Creole vernacular exists in a diglossic relationship with Standard English, the official language

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