Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 14:10:14 -0400 From: TERRY IRONS Subject: Re: oj trial On Thu, 13 Jul 1995, Salikoko Mufwene wrote: > In message Thu, 13 Jul 1995 08:55:51 +0100, debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UIUC.EDU writes: > > > I heard an nth-hand report that the attorneys in the OJ trial and Judge > > Ito clashed yesterday over a prosecution question about whether some > > witness overheard someone "who sounded black." > > I saw the news segment on CNN HEADDLINE NEWS in which Attorney > Cochran(?) was reported to have taken offense at this characterization. > I thought "sounding black/African American" was a common phrase even among > African Americans. So I was shocked by the reaction. I remember > participating in a symposium on AAVE in which an African American linguist > was trying to articulate a distinction between "sounding black" and > "talking black." But I suppose there may be a legal dimension that I have > not perceived yet. > Sali. > The witness, whose first language by the way is French, denied making any such statement. But even if he did, the legal question becomes, what is "sounding black"? CNN interviewed Edward Finegan on the subject today, and Finegan did not address any intonational/grammatical characteristics of sounding black. He did, however, suggest that cultural social differences may manifest themselves in the way people speak. I don't know if he was trying to say that there is no such thing as "sounding black" as a linguistic difference, but it came across that way. He offered no further specifics. Although we may be able to identify stable elements that characterize AAVE, if a non-linguist says someone "sounds black," is that person reacting to these identifiable elements or is that person appealing to some (perhaps bigoted) stereotypical impression? That is the legal question. Do any of the subjective reaction tests reported in the literature (for example, Houck & Davis recent article on sounding hoosier) address this question? Terry Irons P.S. Perhaps for Natalie. Usually when I reply to a posting from the list (using either pine or elm--why are mail programs named after trees?), the reply goes to the list. In replying to Sali's posting, however, the reply goes first to him and then to ADS-L as a cc. Any explanations out there? (*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*) Terry Lynn Irons t.irons[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Voice Mail: (606) 783-5164 Snail Mail: UPO 604 Morehead, KY 40351 (*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)=(*)