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					Li2 Language Variation

Today’s topics
Ebonics vs. Urban English Stereotypes and misperceptions Some juicy samples Ebonics as a rule-governed dialect like any other Linguistic features of Ebonics


Ebonics vs. Urban English
Jive Ebonics Black English Vernacular (BEV) African American Vernacular English (AAVE) Urban English

This speech variety is generally associated by Americans with the African-American community, but one finds many elements of it in the speech of other urban communities It also has significant covert prestige among younger Americans as a whole; cf. dominance of hip hop and speech patterns on MTV programs

Misperception #1: Ebonics as deficient
Baugh, Purnell, and Idsardi 1999
“The ability to discern the use of a nonstandard dialect is often enough information to also determine the speaker’s ethnicity, and speakers may consequently suffer discrimination based on their speech. This article, detailing four experiments, shows that:
housing discrimination based solely on telephone conversations occurs, dialect identification is possible using the word hello, and phonetic correlates of dialect can be discovered.”


Perceived race and guilt
Guilt may be influenced by “crime-related racial stereotypes” (Sunnafrank & Fontes 1983) In a mock jury study, Black defendants who were accused of assault were evaluated as guiltier than White defendants who were similarly accused (Gordon 1993) A “Colored” suspect who switched from English into Cape Afrikaans speech was rated as more guilty by White English-speaking listeners than a suspect who did not exhibit speech divergence. Regardless of such accommodative shifts, however, listeners’ attributions of guilt were stronger when the suspect was accused of a bluecollar crime (e.g., assault) rather than a white-collar crime (e.g. check fraud) (Dixon, Tredoux, Durrheim, and Foster 1994) Dixon et al. 2002
119 participants listened to a recorded exchange between a British male criminal suspect and a male policeman. Employing the matched-guise technique, this exchange was varied to produce a 2 (accent type: Birmingham/standard) x 2 (race of suspect: Black/White) x 2 (crime type: blue collar/white collar) independent-groups design. Follow-up Newman-Keuls tests indicated that the Brummie accent/Black suspect/blue collar cell had significantly higher guilt ratings than the five other cells.

Misperception #2: Ebonics as funny slang


Misperception #3: no differences
Many linguists, activists, and PC types deny that there are any identifiable consistent differences between black and white speech patterns. Reality:
c. 30 studies have found that listeners can distinguish recordings of:
AAVE vs EAE (European American English) AASE (African American Standard English) vs EAE

see Thomas and Reaser 2004 for survey of these studies


The facts
Speakers control a range of registers, from which they choose according to the social situation. Children acquire the language(s) to which they are exposed, regardless of race, class, etc. Humans can express their ideas equally well in whatever language they happen to learn first

The Notorious B.I.G., "One More Chance (remix)"
And my jam knock in the Mitsubishi Girls pee pee when they see me, Nava-hoes creep me in they tee pee As I lay down laws like I lay carpet Stop it-if you think you're gonna make a profit
I enjoy playing my music loudly on my car stereo. Apparently, women enjoy this also because they become sexually aroused when they see me driving. Oddly enough, when I visit the Native American reservations, some of the more sexually promiscuous Indian women attempt to seduce me in their homes. Their intent is to divest me of my earnings. Such actions are unacceptable.


/aj/ pronounced [a˘] or [A˘] (in time, fine, etc.)
online paper on this in Detroit Ebonics


pin/pen merger
Outkast, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik:
See Juice and gin used to be my friend, from the begin And now i'm just a player sippin sauce, every now and then

/I/ (short i) behaves differently than in Standard English
[Si´t] (as in Airplane sample) merger of /i/ and /I/ before l
Destiny’s Child, bills : automobiles
Outkast, Return of the “G” …Man a nigga don't want no trouble a playa just want to kick back with my gators off and watch my li'l girl blow bubbles But still ready to rhyme standin' my ground never back down Willin' to rob steal & kill any thang that threatens mine…

replacement of θ and ð: word-initial: [th, d](thing, through; the, that)
elsewhere: [f, v] (mouth, earth; mother)

r-deletion when not before a vowel
e.g. Anfernee Hardaway, Mean Girls N.B. deletes before vowel-initial word, unlike Boston/NY/RP

{t, d} delete /C_# (east, past, lift, bend, raised) t becomes ʔ (glottal stop) before syllabic n
Martin, nothin’ → [mÅ/In], [n√/In]


-ass suffix
punk-ass, stupid-ass, but not *ridiculous-ass… “Korn is just MTV's version of metal. All the stupid ass people at school who like Korn are those fucking dicks who think they are cool or something cause apparently liking Korn makes them different and strange, and therefore cool.” your momma’s so dumb, I said it’s chilly outside and she ran to get a bowl Holidae Inn, by Chingy and Snoop P.I.M.P. (G-Unit Remix), by 50 Cent
In Hollywood, they say there’s no bidness like show bidness Return of the G, by Outkast In the hood, they say, it’s no bidness like ho bidness . . .Return of the gangsta, bangsta rich aspect system: Them niggaz that think y'all somethin’ he go = completed action (past or future) Say y'all be gospel rappin’ but they be steady clappin’ when you talk about bitches he goin = continuing action and switches and hoes and clothes and weed he be goin = repeated/habitual action Let's talk about time travelin’, rhyme javelin, SAE he's working = Ebonics he working, he be working something mind unravelin’ Get down . . ." steady

it as existential:

what examples do you hear in the following song?

The last line is aimed at rappers who claim to be "gospel-rapping" (i.e. imparting positive morals and values) but are seduced by the easy popularity of rapping about "bitches and switches and hoes and clothes and weed", which Andre opposes, suggesting let's talk about time travelin'/rhyme javelin/somethin' mind unravelin'.

no inversion of subject and auxiliary verb in questions
What time it is? What kind of dream you had?

copula deletion
as rule-governed as in Standard English! He bad/you bad/??I bad


What’s Ur Fantasy (Ludacris and Shawnna)
I wanna lick, lick, lick, lick you from your head to your toes And I wanna move from the bed down to the floor
[Somebody…who can go from a fly S Jetta] to a coupe Deville Hotel telly ho or the Beverly Hills merger before l A real nigga not the regular meals Coming straight in make me shoot to kill


Bare nekkid in a bed of cash deletion Make you stu-stu-stutter when I bare my ass Damn baby wanna buy shit thing of the past Cause I'm a bad bitch and I'm offa the glass

Menage à trois Getting buck wild no matter where we are Indy 500 in the back of the car In a dark ass tunnel In the back of the bar

Where did Ebonics come from?
Southern/British dialect decreolized creole with West African substrate


Labov: “almost every feature of [Ebonics] can be found among some white speakers in the South” confusion of blacks and southerners on the phone pronunciation morphology
aj → a, pin/pen merger, r-deletion no verb agreement (he sing in de choir) no past marker for regular verbs dem = those (e.g. dem gangstas) y’all Multiple modals
E.g. cab director at O’Hare: “talk to the limo driver--he might would know”

Southern origins?

fittin/fixin to chitlins, holler ax ‘ask’, gwyne ‘going’: also found in British dialects

negative concord

Creole/African origins?
signs of aspect as opposed to tense in the AAVE verb system might be causally connected to the aspect systems of West African languages. the verb dig might have an etymology in Wolof degan "understand” goober : Bantu nguba cooter ‘turtle’ (< Niger-Congo; cf Mandingo kuta) okra : Tshi nkruman po(or) Joe ‘great blue heron’ : Vai pojo ‘heron’ mojo < Hausa chigger ‘mite, flea’ < W African jigger ‘blood-sucking mite’


Influence doesn’t always flow from “dominant” varieties

s in n dub ollin o e ho'z. !!! R all th s -ouse a hiz lame get h e in t ird... F lam Da F zin' Fireb bla hiz


Put pretentiously…
whites are “fascinated by [balck culture’s] differences, drawn in by mainstream social constructions [of black culture]…as a forbidden narrative, [and] a symbol of rebellion” (Rose 1994:5) “the adoption of African American speech markers is an attempt by young middle class whites…to take part in the complex prestige of African American youth culture” (Cutler 1999:429)

Hatala 1976, Hewitt 1986, Bucholtz 1999, Cutler 1999 acquisition of superficial phonological and lexical features (Labov 1972) Cutler 1999 study of Mike, rich NYC white kid from expensive prep school:
at age 13 (1993) began to wear baggy jeans, reverse baseball cap, and designer sneakers, and listen to rap age 16 (1996) “Dis is gonna sound mad weird, yo…I’ll put THE SHIT OFF!...Chill, don’t touch it!”


“Whatever their ethnic background, Chavs have a built-in affinity to hip-hop/R&B” “Look at the 20 inchers on me Nova, it's well phat innit! Bling Bling!”

Ebonics is systematic and rule-governed like all natural speech varieties. It appears to have developed from a Southern dialect, with an admixture of Creole and African elements. Characterizations of Ebonics as "slang," "mutant," " lazy," "defective," "ungrammatical," or "broken English" are based on nothing more than superficial observation, and are wildly inaccurate. Source of stigmatisation and prestige is social, not directly linguistic
“if a certain group of speakers uses a particular variant then the social values attributed to that group will be transferred to that linguistic variant” (Labov 1972:25)


Holidae In
rendered as “there’s” in lyrics! [Chorus: Snoop + Girl, then Chingy + Girl]
Chingy (Whachu doin?) Nothing chillin at the Holidae In (Who you wit?) Me and my peeps won't you bring four of your friends (What we gon' do?) Feel on each other and sip on some Hen One thing leading to another let the party begin

[Verse 1: Chingy]
Peeps call me up [phone ring] said it's a ho-tel party Just bring the liquor it’s already eight shawties I'm on my way (way) let me stop by the store Get a 12 pack of Corona, plus an ounce of 'dro, ya know? Now I'm on Highway 2-7 need a natural graze road I'm already blowed, hit third I'm a be be blowed some mo' Pulled up, stop parked, rims still spinning Valet look like he in the game and must be winning To room 490 I'm headed, on my way up it’s three girls on the elevator like "wassup" I told em follow me they knew I had it cracking B One said "ain't you that boy that be on BET?" "Ya that's me, Ching-a-ling equipped wit much ding-a-ling" Knock on the door I'm on the scene of things Busted in, Henny bottle to the face! Fuck it then, feel like my head a toxic waste It’s some pretty girls in herre, I heard em whispering Talking bout "that's that dude that sing 'Right Thurr' he glistening“ I ain't come to talk (talk) I ain't come to sit (sit) What I came for was to find out who I'm gon hit, aww shit

[Chorus: Snoop + Chingy] [Verse 2: Chingy]
Ma showed up like "what's the hold up?" Man know what get them wraps and roll up I took a chick in the bathroom seeing what's poppin You know what's on my mind, shirts off and panties dropping Niggaz knocking on the do’ drunk, and silly The girl said "can I be in yo video" I'm like "yeah!", "oh really?" Now she naked strip teasing, me I'm just cheesing…

steady as aspect marker
Fuck You, by Ja Rule … Yeah! Y’all feelin' my pain? Y’all been runnin' wild time and again Y’all swerve in my lane, I'll pull up and start poppin' ya brain Fuck knowin' these broads names.. extravagant champagne Y’all niggas is lame.. my niggas ain't sane.. Who you fuckin' with? Y’all niggas wanna dead.. (who?).. Then wanna ride.. (who?) Y’all know the niggas who steady screamin'.. (Fuck you!) It’s murder murder You know it’s murder murder We screamin’ We yellin’ We livin’ murder murder murder… No L.O.V.E., by Jhene (card) Giving me bad credit … Buying me gifts in my own name Haven't paid the first bill Who in da world is dis But you're steady heading to the mall Callin’ me at 2:26 in the morning Going on shopping sprees Crack of dawn and, got me yawnin’ perpetrating Telling your friend that you be balling Why you tyin’ up my line Sayin’ you apologize for all the lies you told me (lies) Said you was chillin’ wit da homies (lies) You was chasin’ all da shorties (dass right) And now you claimin’ you adore me (you gets no) You gets N-O-L-O-V-E from me you be steady gamin’ all the time So get O-U-T my F-A-C-E baby outta sight outta mind You gets N-O-L-O-V-E from me Can’t keep tellin’ yo’ lies No more K-I-S-S-I-N-G me baby outta sight outta mind …
Now you been maxing out my card

Rickford, John. 1999. Steady: Progressive Aspect in African American Vernacular English. In Out of the Mouths of Slaves: African American Language and Educational Malpractice.


Baugh, John, Thomas Purnell, and William Idsardi. 1999. Perceptual and phonetic experiments on American English dialect identification. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 18.1:10-30. Bucholtz, Mary. 1999. You da man: Narrating the racial other in the production of white masculinity. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3/4:443460. Cutler, Cecilia. 1999. Yorkville Crossing: White teens, hip hop and African American English. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3/4:428-442. Dixon, John, C. Tredoux, K. Durrheim, and D. Foster. 1994. The role of speech accommodation and crime type in attribution of guilt. Journal of Social Psychology 134:465-473. Dixon, John, Berenice Mahoney, and Roger Cocks. 2002. Accents of Guilt? Effects of Regional Accent, Race, and Crime Type on Attributions of Guilt. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 21.2:162-168. Gordon, R. 1993. The effects of strong versus weak evidence on the


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