Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 18:38:34 -0600

From: Salikoko Mufwene s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UCHICAGO.EDU

Subject: Re: oj trial


Stereotypes are not fool-proof. We use them cognitively because they are

helpful. We can of course misuse them and make them dangerous. And this is

perhaps where Cochran's objection to "sounding black" becomes relevant. As

I said before, African Americans use the phrase, even scholars. I am

personally accustomed to the comment that I sound African. These are

statements based on stereotypes which some honest people find useful. I

guess I'd agree with you if you said that linguists should step down humbly

from the pedestal and stop pretending that only they can determine which

variety is AAVE and which one is not. That authority, if infallible, rests

only on the people who share the code and who may operate, for identification

purpuses, on features which may be different from those linguists have

cherished in their discussions, as useful as they are. I may sound

patronizing now, but I just did not see the point in discreting the

witness's obvervation simply because he is not a linguist.


In message Thu, 13 Jul 1995 17:31:11 -0400,

"William A. Kretzschmar, Jr." billk[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ATLAS.UGA.EDU writes:

As it happens, the witness is a non-native-speaker of American

English, and so not able to make any such judgment in any case.

I cannot resist taking exception with this statement. What if I took

the liberty of substituting "AAVE" for "American English" in your statement,

would I be wrong? Does inablility to replicate the native speaker entail

inability to tell the difference? Actually, aren't there incompetent native

speakers (with regard to the judgment that concerns us here)? Why is the

native speaker presumed error-free? Where does variation fit in all this by

the way?