ERIC Number: ED030877
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1969-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Interrelatedness of Certain Deviant Grammatical Structures in Negro Nonstandard Dialects.
Smith Riley B.
The phenomenon of "cross-code ambiguity" is offered as one explanation of the persistence of such Negro Nonstandard English (NNE) sentences as "The man he did it." In NNE the string "The man did it" is felt to be ambiguous, referring to either "The man who did it..." or, as in Standard English (SE), "The man did it." The use here of the pleonastic subject pronoun "he" removes the ambiguity by marking the non-relativization of the following verb phrases, a function stabilized by the regular deletion of the relative pronoun in this dialect. This process is analogous to the process in SE whereby the ambiguous string "I see the men do it" (either "I see they do it" or "I see them do it") is made unambiguous by using or deleting the clause marker "that" ("I see that the men do it"). Similarly, "It was a man under the bed" is ambiguous in NNE, reflecting the SE equivalents "There was a man under the bed" and "It was a man under the bed (who + VP)." It is important, therefore, for English teachers to realize that some of their cross-dialect communication problems with the NNE speakers are due to ignorance of ambiguous structures in the unfamiliar dialect. (JD)
Descriptors: Ambiguity, Black Dialects, Contrastive Linguistics, Deep Structure, Dialect Studies, Grammar, Nonstandard Dialects, Pronouns, Sentence Structure, Surface Structure, Syntax, TENL, Transformational Generative Grammar
Journal of English Linguistics, Western Washington State College, Bellingham, Washington 98225 ($3.00 single issue).
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Revised version of a paper read at the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society, December 28, 1968, New York City.