ERIC Number: ED241980
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Feb
Little Known Facts about Yesterday's Impact on Today's Speech.
Williamson, Juanita V.; Thompson, C. Lamar
Two major theories trace the origins of black English to African influence or British Isles influence. According to the African origin theory, black English was created through pidginization, creolization, and decreolization as Africans came into contact with Europeans through the slave trade. The second theory holds that most black English characteristics resulted from slaves' close and consistent contact with white overseers and plantation owners of British origin, who undoubtedly used these features in their speech as did their forebears. The black English canon includes some fifty features. For each example, such as the omission of the "-s" inflection in the present tense or the nonstandard uses of the verb "be," identical usage can be found among white colonists of the same or earlier time period, who came predominantly from south and southwest England. Those who hold to the theory of African influence on black speech are forced to construct a long, complex model to account for the current state of black speech. The theory of British Isles influence, on the other hand, is not only neater and more compact, but appears to be more consistent with existing data. (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on English in the Two-Year College (19th, Arlington, VA, February 16-18, 1984).