End of ADS-L Digest - 16 Jul 1995 to 17 Jul 1995 ************************************************ There are 5 messages totalling 161 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. AAVE/BEV/EBONICS/BAE AND WHAT NOT 2. ? Regionalism: "Put up," "Up" (fwd) 3. regional differences 4. ?"dropping like flies" (fwd) 5. ! DROP LIKE FLIES (fwd) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Mon, 17 Jul 1995 23:36:03 -0600 From: Salikoko Mufwene Subject: Re: AAVE/BEV/EBONICS/BAE AND WHAT NOT In message Mon, 17 Jul 1995 20:56:02 -0400, TERRY IRONS writes: > Labels as distinct from realities have political/economic motivations. > Notice that my fanciful name for this language included "Hibernian." In > this respect I include many so-called non-standard varieties spoken by > people of Irish and Scots descent in what we call BE. I teach many of > these people in the Appalachian plateau region of the US, a region with > the most concentrated poverty in this land of plenty. These people are > intensely aware of the fact that they speak differently from the way > people on the TV speak. It is sad that they are often ashamed of this > fact, and want to change they way they speak. I see it every day. It is > a case of internal colonialism at its worst. > In Spring 1986, I was "hunting/fishing for" Gullah on the Sea Islands of South Carolina. One particular weekend, I was hosted by a family at Frogmore, near Beaufort. I was assigned to the family because the guys at the Penn Community Center thought I was likely to hear them interact in Gullah. I heard a little bit but the wife claimed only her husband spoke it. I heard her speak it only when she was testifying in church. The man claimed he did not know what "Gullah" was, even after I heard him speak it with his brother while they took me to visit Parish Island. When I told him afterwards that I thought he and his brother had spoken Gullah during the tour, he was shocked that his variety was called Gullah, though he knew they talk different from mainlanders. Anyway, he got me back. He took to a joint in the evening and introduced me to an old toothless and stammering man that even the locals had trouble communicating with. Afterwards, with a satisfied grin, he told me: "maybe that's what you call Gullah and have been looking for." The point of this story is: who decides in such cases what to call such varieties which claim as much descendance from English as what is spoken on TV? It's all right when native speakers decide to disfranchize themselves and claim they speak another language. What if they think they speak the same language, is it up to those who cannot communicate with them to disown their variety? Were all the original navite varieties in the British Isles or in England mutually intelligible among all members of the language community? It's politics all right, but whose politics should matter? If you are native Appalachian, it's your right to claim Appalachians do not speak English. However, if you are not, isn't that a one-sided decision? When does a dialect become a separate language? I think that for professional reasons, differences and similarities do not decrease or increase depending on whether we call AAVE/BAE and Appalachian English dialects of English or separate languages. I'll be very happy to use a name that comes from members of the community. When linguists make up names of their own and want to impose their ideological biases, I'll challenge them to justify their positions, hoping to benefit from their expert arguments. Sali.